Skip to main content

Full text of "Dialogues of Plato"

See other formats







T  H  E 





B.    JOWETT,    M.A. 


DOCTOR      IN      THEOLOGY      OF      THE      UNIVERSITY      OF      I.EVDKN 


VOL.    I 




[All  rights  reserved] 











THE  Text  which  has  been  mostly  followed  in  this 
Translation  of  Plato  is  the  latest  Svo.  edition  of 
Stallbaum ;  the  principal  deviations  are  noted  at  the 
bottom  of  the  page. 

I  have  to  acknowledge  many  obligations  to  old  friends 
and  pupils.  These  are : — Mr.  John  Purves,  Fellow 
of  Balliol  College,  with  whom  I  have  revised  about 
half  of  the  entire  Translation  ;  the  Rev.  Professor 
Campbell,  of  St.  Andrews,  who  has  helped  me  in  the 
revision  of  several  parts  of  the  work,  especially  of  the 
Theaetetus,  Sophist,  and  Politicus  ;  Mr.  Robinson  Ellis, 
Fellow  of  Trinity  College,  and  Mr.  Alfred  Robinson, 
Fellow  of  New  College,  who  read  with  me  the 

O       ' 

Cratylus  and  the  Gorgias ;  Mr.  Paravicini,  Student  of 
Christ  Church,  who  assisted  me  in  the  Symposium  ; 
Mr.  Raper,  Fellow  of  Queen's  College,  Mr.  Monro, 
Fellow  of  Oriel  College,  and  Mr.  Shadwell,  Student 
of  Christ  Church,  who  gave  me  similar  assistance  in 
the  Laws.  Dr.  Greenhill,  of  Hastings,  has  also  kindly 
sent  me  remarks  on  the  physiological  part  of  the  Ti- 
maeus,  which  I  have  inserted  as  corrections  under  the 
head  of  errata  at  the  end  of  the  Introduction.  The 
degree  of  accuracy  which  I  have  been  enabled  to  attain 
is  in  great  measure  due  to  these  gentlemen,  and  I 
heartily  thank  them  for  the  pains  and  time  which  they 
have  bestowed  on  my  work. 


I  have  further  to  explain  how  far  I  have  received  help 
from    other    labourers    in    the    same    field.      The    books 
which    I    have    found    of  most    use    are    Steinhart    and 
Miiller's   German    Translation   of    Plato    with    Introduc 
tions  ;    Zeller's    '  Philosophic    der    Griechen,'    and    '  Pla- 
tonische  Studien;'  Susemihl's  '  Genetische  Entwickelung 
der   Platonischen    Philosophic;'     Hermann's    '  Geschicte 
der     Platonischen     Philosophic  ; '     Bonitz,     '  Platonische 
Studien;'    Stallbaum's    Notes   and    Introductions;     Pro 
fessor    Campbell's    editions    of  the    '  Theaetetus/    the 
'  Sophist,'   and   the    '  Politicus  ;  \    Professor    Thompson's 
Phaedrus;'     Th.    Martin's    'Etudes    sur    le    Timee;' 
Mr.    Poste's   edition   and   translation  of  the  'Philebus;' 
the    Translation   of   the  '  Republic,'   by  Messrs.    Davies 
and   Vaughan,    and    the    Translation    of  the    '  Goroias,' 
by  Mr.  Cope. 

I  have  also  derived  much  assistance  from  the  great 
work  of  Mr.  Grote,  which  contains  excellent  analyses 
of  the  Dialogues,  and  is  rich  in  original  thoughts 
and  observations.  I  agree  with  him  in  rejecting  as 
futile  the  attempt  of  Schleiermacher  and  others  to 
arrange  the  Dialogues  of  Plato  into  a  harmonious 
whole.  Any  such  arrangement  appears  to  me  not  only 
to  be  unsupported  by  evidence,  but  to  involve  an  ana 
chronism  in  the  history  of  philosophy.  There  is  a  com 
mon  spirit  in  the  writings  of  Plato,  but  not  a  unity  of 
design  in  the  whole,  nor  perhaps  a  perfect  unity  in  any 
single  Dialogue.  The  hypothesis  of  a  general  plan 
which  is  worked  out  in  the  successive  Dialogues  is 
an  after-thought  of  the  critics  who  have  attributed  a 
system  to  writings  belonging  to  an  age  when  system 
had  not  as  yet  taken  possession  of  philosophy. 

If  Mr.  Grote  should  do  me  the  honour  to  read  any 
portion  of  this  work  he  will  probably  remark  that  I  have 



endeavoured  to  approach  Plato  from  a  point  of  view 
which  is  opposed  to  his  own.  The  aim  of  the  Introduc 
tions  in  these  volumes  has  been  to  represent  Plato  as  the 
father  of  Idealism,  who  is  not  to  be  measured  by  the 
standard  of  utilitarianism  or  any  other  modern  philo 
sophical  system.  He  is  the  poet  or  maker  of  ideas, 
satisfying  the  wants  of  his  own  age,  providing  the 
instruments  of  thought  for  future  generations.  He  is 
no  dreamer,  but  a  great  philosophical  genius  struggling 
with  the  unequal  conditions  of  light  and  knowledge 
under  which  he  is  living.  He  may  be  illustrated  by 
the  writings  of  moderns,  but  he  must  be  interpreted 
by  his  own,  and  by  his  place  in  the  history  of  philosophy. 
We  are  not  concerned  to  determine  what  is  the  re 
siduum  of  truth  which  remains  for  ourselves.  His 
truth  may  not  be  our  truth,  and  nevertheless  may 
have  an  extraordinary  value  and  interest  for  us. 

I  cannot  agree  with  Mr.  Grote  in  admitting  as  gen 
uine  all  the  writings  commonly  attributed  to  Plato  in 
antiquity,  any  more  than  with  Schaarschmidt  and  some 
other  German  critics  who  reject  nearly  half  of  them. 
The  German  critics,  to  whom  I  refer,  proceed  chiefly  on 
grounds  of  internal  evidence  ;  they  appear  to  me  to  lay 
too  much  stress  on  the  variety  of  doctrine  and  style, 
which  must  be  equally  acknowledged  as  a  fact,  even  in 
the  Dialogues  regarded  by  Schaarschmidt  as  genuine, 
e.g.  in  the  Phaedrus,  or  Symposium,  when  compared  with 
the  Laws.  He  who  admits  works  so  different  in  style 
and  matter  to  have  been  the  composition  of  the  same 
author,  need  have  no  difficulty  (see  vol.  iv,  Appendix)  in 
admitting  the  Sophist  or  the  Politicus.  [The  negative 
argument  adduced  by  the  same  school  of  critics,  which 
is  based  on  the  silence  of  Aristotle,  is  not  worthy  of 
much  consideration.  For  why  should  Aristotle,  because 
VOL.  i.  b 


he  has  quoted  several  Dialogues  of  Plato,  have  quoted 
them  all  ?  Something  must  be  allowed  to  chance,  and 
to  the  nature  of  the  subjects  treated  of  in  them.] 
On  the  other  hand,  Mr.  Grote  trusts  mainly  to  the 
Alexandrian  Canon.  But  I  hardly  think  that  we  are 
justified  in  attributing  much  weight  to  the  authority 
of  the  Alexandrian  librarians  in  an  age  when  there 
was  no  regular  publication  of  books,  and  every  tempt 
ation  to  forge  them  ;  and  in  which  the  writings  of  a 
school  were  naturally  attributed  to  the  founder  of  the 
school.  And  even  without  intentional  fraud,  there  was 
an  inclination  to  believe  rather  than  to  enquire.  Would 
Mr.  Grote  accept  as  genuine  all  the  writings  which  he 
finds  in  the  lists  of  learned  ancients  attributed  to  Hip 
pocrates,  to  Xenophon,  to  Aristotle  ?  The  Alexandrian 
Canon  of  the  Platonic  writings  is  deprived  of  credit 
by  the  admission  of  the  Epistles,  which  are  not  only 
unworthy  of  Plato,  and  in  several  passages  plagiarized 
from  him,  but  flagrantly  at  variance  with  historical  fact. 
It  will  be  seen  also  that  I  do  not  agree  with  Mr.  Grote's 
views  about  the  Sophists ;  nor  with  the  low  estimate 
which  he  has  formed  of  Plato's  Laws ;  nor  with  his 
opinion  respecting  Plato's  doctrine  of  the  rotation  of 
the  earth.  But  I  'am  not  going  to  lay  hands  on  my 
father  Parmenides'  [Soph.  241  D],  who  will,  I  hope, 
forgive  me  for  differing  from  him  on  these  points.  I 
cannot  close  this  Preface  without  expressing  my  deep 
respect  for  his  noble  and  gentle  character,  and  the 
great  services  which  he  has  rendered  to  Greek 

January,   1871 



IN  publishing  a  Second  Edition  of  the  Dialogues  of 
Plato  in  English,  I  have  to  acknowledge  the  assistance 
of  several  friends  :  of  the  Rev.  G.  G.  Bradley,  Master 
of  University  College,  who  sent  me  some  valuable 
remarks  on  the  Phaedo ;  of  Dr.  Greenhill,  who  has 
again  revised  a  portion  of  the  Timaeus ;  of  Mr.  R.  L. 
Nettleship,  Fellow  and  Tutor  of  Balliol  College,  to 
whom  I  am  indebted  for  an  excellent  criticism  of  the 
Parmenides;  and,  above  all,  of  the  Rev.  Professor 
Campbell  of  St.  Andrews,  and  Mr.  Paravicini,  late 
Student  of  Christ  Church  and  Tutor  of  Balliol  College, 
with  whom  I  have  read  over  the  greater  part  of  the 
translation.  I  am  also  indebted  to  Mr.  Evelyn  Abbott, 
Fellow  and  Tutor  of  Balliol  College,  for  a  complete 
and  accurate  index. 

The  Prefaces  to  the  Dialogues  have  been  enlarged, 
and  essays  on  subjects  of  modern  philosophy  having 
an  affinity  to  the  Platonic  Dialogues  have  been  intro 
duced  into  several  of  them.  The  analyses  have  been 
corrected,  and  innumerable  alterations  have  been  made 
in  the  Text. 

At  the  end  of  a  long  task,  the  translator  may  without 



impropriety  point  out  the  difficulties  which  he  has  had 
to  encounter.  These  have  been  far  greater  than  he 
would  have  anticipated;  nor  is  he  at  all  sanguine  that 
he  has  succeeded  in  overcoming  them. 

I.  It  may  seem  a  truism  to  say  that  an  English  trans 
lation  must  have  a  distinct  meaning  and  must  be  English. 
Its  object  is  not  merely  to  render  the  words  of  one 
language  into  the  words  of  another,  but  to  produce 
an  impression  similar  or  nearly  similar  to  that  of  the 
original  on  the  mind  of  the  reader.  It  should  be 
rhythmical  and  varied,  and,  above  all,  equable  in  style. 
It  should  in  some  degree  at  least  retain  the  charac 
teristic  qualities  of  the  ancient  writer — his  freedom, 
grace,  simplicity,  stateliness,  weight,  precision ;  or  the 
best  part  of  him  will  be  lost  to  the  English  reader. 
It  should  read  as  an  original  work,  and  should  also  be 
the  most  faithful  transcript  which  can  be  made  of  the 
language  from  which  the  translation  is  taken,  consistently 
with  the  first  requirement  of  all,  that  it  be  English. 
But  it  is  difficult  to  harmonize  all  these  opposite  claims. 
In  translating  Plato  what  may  be  termed  the  interests 
of  the  Greek  and  of  the  English  will  often  be  at  war 
with  one  another.  In  framing  an  English  sentence  or 
in  rounding  a  paragraph  the  attention  is  insensibly 
diverted  from  the  exact  meaning  of  the  Greek.  The 
freest  and  the  most  literal  translation  are  not  necessarily 
opposed,  but  the  two  principles  can  only  be  harmonized 
by  a  series  of  corrections.  All  the  subtle  effects  of 
words  upon  one  another,  the  allusions  which  play  upon 
the  surface  or  lie  underneath,  are  not  perceived  at  a 
first  or  a  second  reading,  and  cannot,  with  the  utmost 
pains  of  the  translator,  be  perfectly  imitated. 

There    are    fundamental    differences    in    Greek    and 
English    of  which  some  may  be  managed  while  others 


remain  intractable,  (i).  The  structure  of  the  Greek  lan 
guage  is  partly  adversative  and  alternative,  and  partly 
inferential ;  that  is  to  say,  the  members  of  a  sentence 
are  either  opposed  to  one  another,  or  one  of  them 
expresses  the  cause  or  effect  or  condition  or  reason  of 
another.  The  two  tendencies  may  be  called  the 
horizontal  or  perpendicular  lines  of  the  language  ;  and 
the  opposition  or  inference  is  often  much  more  one  of 
words  than  of  ideas.  But  modern  languages  have 
rubbed  off  this  inferential  and  adversative  form  :  they 
have  fewer  links  of  connection,  and  are  content  to 
place  sentences  side  by  side,  leaving  their  relation  to 
one  another  to  be  inferred  from  their  position  or  from 
the  rest  of  the  sentence.  The  difficulty  of  preserving 
the  effect  of  the  Greek  is  increased  by  the  want  of 
adversative  or  inferential  particles  in  English,  and  by 
the  nice  sense  of  tautology  which  characterizes  all 
modern  languages.  We  cannot  have  two  'huts'  or 
4  fors'  in  the  same  sentence  where  the  Greek  repeats 
a\\a  or  jap.  There  is  a  similar  want  of  particles 
expressing  the  various  gradations  of  objective  and 
subjective  thought — TTOU,  ^7,  ^v,  /xeVro*,  and  the  like, 
which  are  so  thickly  scattered  over  the  Greek  page. 
And  while  English  is  more  dependent  than  Greek  upon 
the  apposition  of  clauses  and  sentences,  there  is  a 
further  difficulty  in  using  this  form  of  construction 
owing  to  the  want  of  case  endings.  For  the  same 
reason  there  cannot  be  an  equal  variety  in  the  order 
of  words  or  an  equal  nicety  of  emphasis  in  English 
as  in  Greek. 

(2).  Still  greater  is  the  difficulty  which  arises  from  the 
restriction  of  the  use  of  the  genders.  Men  and  women 
in  English  are  masculine  and  feminine,  and  there  is 
a  similar  distinction  of  sex  in  the  words  denoting 


animals;  but  all  things  else,  whether  outward  objects 
or  abstract  ideas,  are  relegated  to  the  class  of  neuters. 
Hardly  in  some  flight  of  poetry  do  we  ever  endue 
any  of  them  with  the  characteristics  of  a  sentient  being, 
and  then  only  by  speaking  of  them  in  the  feminine 
gender.  The  virtues  may  be  pictured  in  female  forms, 
but  they  are  not  so  described  in  language;  a  ship  is 
humorously  supposed  to  be  the  sailor's  bride;  more 
doubtful  are  the  personifications  of  church  and  country 
as  females.  So  rare  are  the  exceptions  to  the  general 
rule  which  has  just  been  laid  down.  Now  the  genius 
of  the  Greek  language  is  the  opposite  of  this.  The 
same  tendency  to  personification  which  is  seen  in  the 
Greek  mythology  is  common  also  in  language ;  and 
genders  are  attributed  to  things  as  well  as  persons 
according  to  their  various  degrees  of  strength  and 
weakness ;  or  from  fanciful  resemblances  to  the  male 
or  female  form,  or  in  consequence  of  some  analogy 
too  subtle  to  be  discovered.  When  the  gender  of  any 
object  was  once  fixed,  a  similar  gender  was  naturally 
assigned  to  all  similar  objects.  This  use  of  genders 
in  the  denotation  of  objects  or  ideas  not  only  affects 
the  words  to  which  a  masculine  or  feminine  gender 
is  attributed,  but  the  words  with  which  they  are  construed 
or  connected,  and  passes  into  the  general  character  of 
the  style.  Hence  arises  a  difficulty  in  translating  Greek 
into  English  which  cannot  altogether  be  overcome. 
Shall  we  speak  of  the  soul  and  its  qualities,  of  virtue, 
power,  wisdom,  and  the  like,  as  feminine  or  neuter  ? 
The  usage  of  the  English  language  does  not  admit 
of  the  former,  and  yet  the  life  and  beauty  of  the  style 
are  impaired  by  the  latter.  For  how  can  we  attribute 
intelligence  and  mind  to  what  is  neuter  ?  Often  the 
translator  will  have  recourse  to  the  repetition  of  the 


word,  or  to  the  ambiguous  '  they/  '  their/  or  *  whose/ 
etc. ;  for  fear  of  spoiling  the  effect  of  the  sentence  by 
introducing  '  it/  Words  signifying  things  or  persons  can 
almost  always  be  expressed  by  equivalents  in  English  ; 
the  difficulty  begins  with  the  intermediate  degrees  or 
half  personifications  which  pervade  a  Greek  sentence. 

(3).  The  use  of  relation  is  far  more  extended  in  Greek 
than  in  English.  Partly  the  greater  variety  of  genders 
and  cases  makes  the  connection  of  relative  and  ante 
cedent  less  ambiguous :  partly  also  the  greater  number 
of  demonstrative  and  relative  pronouns,  and  the  use  of 
the  article,  make  the  correlation  of  ideas  simpler  and 
more  natural.  The  Greek  appears  to  have  had  an  ear 
or  intelligence  for  a  long  and  complicated  sentence 
which  is  not  to  be  found  in  modern  nations.  Neither 
is  the  same  precision  required  in  Greek  as  in  English  ; 
there  was  nothing  shocking  to  the  contemporary  of 
Thucydides  and  Plato  in  anacolutha  and  repetitions. 
In  such  cases  the  genius  of  the  English  language 
requires  that  the  translation  should  be  more  perspicuous 
than  the  Greek.  The  want  of  more  distinctions  between 
the  demonstrative  pronouns  is  also  greatly  felt.  Fre 
quently  the  noun  has  to  take  the  place  of  the  pronoun. 
'This'  and  'that'  are  found  repeating  themselves  to 
weariness  in  the  translation.  As  in  the  previous  case, 
while  the  feeling  of  the  modern  language  is  more 
opposed  to  tautology,  there  is  also  a  greater  difficulty  in 
avoiding  it. 

(4).  Though  no  precise  rule  can  be  laid  down  about 
the  repetition  of  words,  there  seems  to  be  a  kind  of 
impertinence  in  presenting  to  the  reader  the  same  thought 
in  the  same  words,  repeated  twice  over  in  the  same 
passage  without  any  new  aspect  or  modification  of  it. 
Evasions  of  tautology — that  is  to  say,  the  substitution 


of  one  word  of  precisely  the  same  meaning  for  another— 
are  resented  by  us  equally  with  repetitions  of  words. 
Yet  on  the  other  hand  the  least  difference  of  meaning 
or  the  least  change  of  the  word  from  a  substantive  to 
an  adjective,  or  from  a  participle  to  a  verb,  will  often 
remedy  the  unpleasant  effect.  Rarely  for  the  sake  of 
emphasis  or  clearness  can  we  allow  an  important  verb  or 
substantive  to  be  used  twice  over  in  two  successive  sen 
tences.  The  particles  and  pronouns,  as  they  are  of  most 
frequent  occurrence,  are  also  the  most  troublesome. 
Strictly  speaking,  except  a  few  of  the  commonest  of 
them,  'and,'  'the/  etc.,  they  ought  not  to  occur  twice 
in  the  same  sentence.  But  the  Greek  has  no  such 
precise  rules  ;  and  hence  a  literal  translation  of  a  Greek 
author  is  full  of  tautology.  The  tendency  of  modern 
languages  is  to  become  more  correct  as  well  as  more 
perspicuous  than  ancient.  And,  therefore,  while  the 
English  translator  is  limited  in  the  power  of  expressing 
relation  or  connection,  by  the  law  of  his  own  language 
increased  precision  and  also  increased  clearness  are 
required  of  him.  The  familiar  use  of  logic,  and  the 
progress  of  science,  have  in  these  two  respects  raised 
the  standard.  But  modern  languages  while  they  have 
become  more  exacting  in  their  demands,  are  in  many 
respects  not  so  well  furnished  with  powers  of  expression 
as  the  ancient  classical  ones. 

Such  are  a  few  of  the  difficulties  which  have  to  be 
overcome  in  the  work  of  translation ;  and  there  are 
many  others.  (5).  The  excellence  of  a  translation  will  con 
sist  not  merely  in  the  faithful  rendering  of  words,  or  in 
the  composition  of  a  sentence  only,  or  yet  of  a  single 
paragraph,  but  in  the  colour  and  style  of  the  whole 
work.  The  metaphors  admissible  in  different  languages 
vary,  and  the  translator  will  often  be  compelled  to 


substitute  one  for  another,  not  giving  word  for  word, 
but  leading  up  to  and  making  preparation  for  striking 
or  metaphorical  expressions.  He  must  find  modern 
equivalents  taken  from  Scripture,  or  from  the  English 
poets,  for  ancient  phrases ;  for  ideas  must  be  given  through 
something.  He  must  also  provide  expressions  for  phi 
losophical  terms  of  very  indefinite  meaning  in  the  more 
definite  language  of  modern  philosophy.  And  he  must 
not  allow  discordant  elements  to  enter  into  the  work. 
For  example,  in  translating  Plato,  it  would  equally  be 
an  anachronism  to  intrude  on  him  the  feeling  and  spirit 
of  the  Jewish  or  Christian  Scriptures  or  the  technical 
terms  of  the  Modern  German  philosophy. 

(6).  As  no  two  words  are  precise  equivalents  (just 
as  no  two  leaves  of  the  forest  are  exactly  similar),  it 
is  impossible  that  the  same  Greek  word  should  always 
be  translated  by  the  same  English  word.  In  such  cases 
the  translator  may  be  allowed  to  employ  two  words— 
sometimes  when  the  two  meanings  occur  in  the  same 
passage,  varying  them  by  an  'or' — e.g.  eTria-Trj/urj,  '  science ' 
or  ( knowledge,'  e<^o?,  *  idea '  or  '  class,' — at  the  point 
where  the  change  of  meaning  occurs.  Proverbial  ex 
pressions  may  be  replaced  by  parallel  expressions  in 
English  or  modern  languages.  If  translations  are 
intended  not  for  the  Greek  scholar  but  for  the  general 
reader,  their  worst  fault  will  be  that  they  sacrifice  the 
general  effect  and  meaning  to  the  over  precise  rendering 
of  words  and  forms  of  speech. 

(7).  There  is  no  kind  of  literature  in  English  which 
corresponds  to  the  Greek  Dialogue ;  nor  is  the  English 
language  easily  adapted  to  it.  Most  of  the  so-called 
English  Dialogues  are  only  imitations  of  Plato,  which 
fall  very  far  short  of  the  original.  The  breath  of  con 
versation,  the  subtle  adjustment  of  question  and  answer, 

xviii  PREFACE  TO  THE 

the  lively  play  of  fancy,  the  power  of  drawing  characters, 
are  wanting  in  them.  But  the  Platonic  dialogue  is  a 
drama  as  well  as  a  dialogue,  of  which  Socrates  is  the 
central  figure,  and  there  are  lesser  performers  as  well  :— 
the  insolence  of  Thrasymachus,  the  anger  of  Callicles 
and  Anytus,  the  patronizing  style  of  Protagoras,  the 
self-consciousness  of  Prodicus  and  Hippias,  are  all  part 
of  the  entertainment.  To  reproduce  this  living  image 
the  same  sort  of  effort  is  required  as  in  translating 

poetry — vroXX^?    CCTTI    7re//oa?     TeXevTCtiov     e7riy£vvrnu.a.        The 

English  language  is  slow  in  lending  itself  to  the  form 
of  question  and  answer,  and  so  the  ease  of  conver 
sation  is  partly  lost,  and  at  the  same  time  the  dialectical 
precision  with  which  the  steps  of  the  argument  are 
drawn  out  is  apt  to  be  impaired. 

II.  In  the  Introductions  to  the  Dialogues  have 
been  added  some  essays  on  modern  philosophy,  and  on 
political  and  social  life.  The  chief  subjects  discussed 
in  these  are  Utility,  Communism,  and  the  Kantian  and 
Hegelian  philosophies. 

Ancient  and  modern  philosophy  throw  a  light  upon 
one  another  :  but  they  should  be  compared,  not  con 
founded.  Although  the  connection  between  them  is 
sometimes  accidental,  it  is  often  real.  The  same  questions 
are  discussed  by  them  under  different  conditions  of 
language  and  civilization  ;  but  frequently  a  mere  word 
has  survived,  while  nothing  or  hardly  anything  of  the 
Platonic  or  Aristotelian  meaning  is  retained.  There 
are  other  questions  familiar  to  the  moderns,  which  have 
no  place  in  ancient  philosophy.  The  world  has  grown 
older  in  two  thousand  years,  and  has  enlarged  its  stock 
of  ideas  and  methods  of  reasoning.  The  germ  of 
modern  thought  is  found  in  ancient,  and  we  may  claim 
to  have  inherited,  notwithstanding  many  accidents  of 


time  and  place,  the  spirit  of  Greek  philosophy.  Yet 
there  is  no  continuous  growth  of  one  into  the  other, 
but  a  new  beginning,  partly  artificial,  partly  arising  out 
of  the  questionings  of  the  mind  itself,  and  also  re 
ceiving  a  stimulus  from  the  study  of  ancient  writings. 

Considering  the  great  and  fundamental  differences 
which  exist  in  ancient  and  modern  philosophy,  it  seems 
best  that  we  should  at  first  study  them  separately, 
and  seek  for  the  interpretation  of  either,  especially  of 
the  ancient,  from  itself  only,  comparing  the  same 
author  with  himself  and  with  his  contemporaries,  and 
with  the  general  state  of  thought  and  feeling  preva 
lent  in  his  age.  Afterwards  comes  the  remoter  light 
which  they  cast  on  one  another.  Then  we  feel  that 
the  ancients  had  the  same  thoughts  as  ourselves,  the 
same  difficulties  which  characterize  all  periods  of  tran 
sition,  almost  the  same  opposition  between  science  and 
religion.  Although  we  cannot  maintain  that  ancient 
and  modern  philosophy  are  one  and  continuous  (as  has 
been  affirmed  with  more  truth  respecting  ancient  and 
modern  history),  for  they  are  separated  by  an  interval 
of  a  thousand  years,  yet  they  seem  to  recur  in  a  sort 
of  cycle,  and  we  are  surprised  to  find  that  the  new 
is  ever  old,  and  that  the  teaching  of  the  past  has  still 
a  meaning  for  us. 

III.  In  the  preface  to  the  first  edition  I  expressed  a 
strong  opinion  at  variance  with  Mr.  Grote's,  that  the 
so  called  Epistles  of  Plato  were  spurious.  His  friend 
and  editor,  Professor  Bain,  naturally  thinks  that  I  ought 
to  give  the  reasons  why  I  differ  from  so  eminent 
an  authority.  Reserving  the  fuller  discussion  of  the 
question  for  another  work,  I  will  shortly  defend  my 
opinion  by  the  following  arguments  :— 

(a)  Because  almost  all  epistles  purporting  to  be    of 


the  classical  age  of  Greek  literature  are  forgeries1.  Of 
all  documents  they  are  the  least  likely  to  be  preserved 
and  the  most  likely  to  be  invented.  The  ancient  world 
swarmed  with  them,  and  it  may  be  questioned  whether 
any  of  the  extant  Greek  epistles  are  genuine. 

(d)  When  one  epistle  out  of  a  number  is  spurious, 
another  can  hardly  be  genuine  ;  when  all  but  one  are 
spurious,  overwhelming  evidence  is  required  of  the 
genuineness  of  the  one.  But  no  one,  not  even  Mr. 
Grote,  would  maintain  that  all  the  Epistles  of  Plato 
are  genuine,  and  very  few  critics  think  that  more  than 
one  of  them  is  so. 

The  external  probability  therefore  against  them  is 
enormous,  and  the  internal  probability  is  not  less  :  for 
they  are  trivial  and  unmeaning,  devoid  of  delicacy  and 
subtlety,  wanting  in  a  single  fine  expression.  And 
even  if  this  be  matter  of  dispute,  there  can  be  no  dis 
pute  that  they  are  full  of  plagiarisms,  inappropriately 
borrowed,  which  is  a  common  note  of  forgery.  Compare 
330  foil,  with  Rep.  iv.  425  E,  426  B,  vi.  488  A;  Laws 
vi.  752  D:  347  E  with  Phaedrus  249  D:  326  A  and 
328  A  with  Rep.  v.  473  C,  etc.  They  also  contain 
several  historical  blunders,  such  as  the  statement  that 
Socrates  was  put  to  death  by  the  Tyrants  (324  C)  ;  or 
that  respecting  the  nephews  of  Dionysius  (328  A),  who, 
being  of  the  age  of  six  or  seven,  are  said  to  '  have  been 
well  inclined  to  philosophy,  and  well  able  to  dispose 
the  mind  of  Dionysius  in  the  same  course ' ;  or  the 
foolish  allusion  to  the  Athenian  empire,  and  the  other 
allusion  to  the  empire  of  Darius  (332  A),  which  shows 
a  spirit  very  different  from  that  of  Plato.  These  pal 
pable  errors  and  absurdities,  for  the  observation  of 

1  Compare  Bentley's  Phalari?,  vol.  ii.  182  foil. 


which  I  am  indebted  to  Karstcn  (Comment.  Critica), 
are  absolutely  irreconcileable  with  the  genuineness  of 
the  Seventh  Epistle,  which  is  supposed  to  be  the  most 
genuine  of  them.  They  appear  to  have  a  common 
parentage,  and  therefore  the  condemnation  of  one  is 
the  condemnation  of  all  ;  and  the  more  they  are  com 
pared,  the  more  they  will  be  found  to  furnish  evidence 
against  one  another. 


I  have  to  correct  an  oversight  in  the  first  edition, 
which  has  been  continued  in  the  second.  In  speaking 
of  an  early  work  of  Professor  Zeller,  I  omitted  to 
mention  that  in  his  History  of  Philosophy  he  has  re 
tracted  his  former  opinion  respecting  the  un-Platonic 
character  of  the  Laws.  May  I  take  the  opportunity 
of  saying  that  there  is  no  living  writer  to  whom  I 
and  many  other  students  of  Plato  are  under  greater 
obligations  than  to  Professor  Zeller  ? 



-CHARMIDES  .......  i 

LYSIS      ...  ...  39 

LACHES          .....  ?i 

PROTAGORAS  ^.  ...  .107 

EUTHYDEMUS       ......  .181 

ION          ..........       237 

MENO     .  ^      .........       257 

EUTHYPHRO         .  .  .       3°7 

*,  APOLOGY       .....  -335 

i    CRITO    ...  .  .377 

^PHAEDO  •         •       397 


VOL.   I. 


THE  subject  of  the  Charmides  is  Temperance  or  o-ox/^oa^,  a 
peculiarly  Greek  notion,  which  may  also  be  rendered  Moderation1, 
Modesty,  Discretion,  Wisdom,  without  completely  exhausting  by  all 
these  terms  the  various  associations  of  the  word.  It  may  be  described 
as  'rnens  sana  in  corpore  sano/  the  harmony  or  due  proportion  of  the 
higher  and  lower  elements  of  human  nature  which  '  makes  a  man  his 
own  master/  according  to  the  definition  of  the  Republic.  In  the 
accompanying  translation  the  word  has  been  rendered  in  different 
places  either  Temperance  or  Wisdom,  as  the  connection  seemed  to 
require  :  for  in  the  philosophy  of  Plato  o-co^poo-^  still  retains  an  intel 
lectual  element  (as  Socrates  is  also  said  to  have  identified  a^pocrv^ 
with  aofra  :  Xen.  Mem.  iii.  9,  4),  and  is  not  yet  relegated  to  the  sphere 
of  moral  virtue,  as  in  the  Nicomachean  Ethics  of  Aristotle  (iii.  10). 

The  beautiful  youth,  Charmides,  who  is  also  the  most  temperate  of 
human  beings,  is  asked  by  Socrates,  '  What  is  Temperance  ?  '  He 
answers  characteristically,  (i)  '  Quietness.'  'But  Temperance  is  a  fine 
and  noble  thing  ;  and  quietness  in  many  or  most  cases  is  not  so  fine 
a  thing  as  quickness/  He  tries  again  and  says  (2)  that  temperance  is 
modesty.  But  this  again  is  set  aside  by  a  sophistical  application  of 
Homer  :  for  temperance  is  good  as  well  as  noble,  and  Homer  has 
declared  that  <  modesty  is  not  good  for  a  needy  man.'  (3)  Once  more 
Charmides  makes  the  attempt.  This  time  he  gives  a  definition  which 
he  has  heard,  and  of  which  Socrates  conjectures  that  Critias  must  be 
the  author  :  '  Temperance  is  doing  one's  own  business/  But  the  arti 
san  who  makes  another  man's  shoes  may  be  temperate,  and  yet  he  is 

Cp.  Cic.  Tusc.  iii.  8,  16,  '(rutypoavvr),  quam  soleo  equidem  turn  temperan- 
tiam  turn  moderationem  appellare  nonnunquam  etiam  modestiam  :  '  foil. 

B   2 


not  doing  his  own  business ;  and  temperance  denned  thus  would  be 
opposed  to  the  division  of  labour  which  exists  in  every  temperate  or 
well-ordered  state.  How  is  this  riddle  to  be  explained? 

Critias,  who  takes  the  place  of  Charmides,  distinguishes  in  his  answer 
between  'making'  and  'doing,'  and  with  the  help  of  a  misapplied 
quotation  from  Hesiod  assigns  to  the  words  '  doing '  and  '  work '  an 
exclusively  good  sense:  temperance  is  doing  one's  own  business; — 
(4)  is  doing  good. 

Still    an    element    of   knowledge  is  wanting  which  Critias  is  readily 

induced  to   admit   at   the  suggestion  of  Socrates;  and,  in  the  spirit  of 

Socrates  and  of  Greek  life  generally,  proposes  as  a  fifth  definition,  (5) 

Temperance  is  self-knowledge.    But  all  sciences  have  a  subject :  number 

is  the  subject  of  arithmetic,  health  of  medicine — what  is  the  subject  of 

temperance   or  wisdom  ?     The   answer  is  that   (6)  Temperance    is   the 

knowledge  of  what  a  man  knows  and  of  what  he  does  not  know.     But 

this  is  contrary  to   analogy;  there  is  no  vision  of  vision,  but  only  of 

visible  things  ;  no  love  of  loves,  but  only  of  beautiful  things ;  how  then 

can  there  be  a  knowledge  of  knowledge  ?    That  which  is  older,  heavier, 

lighter,    is    older,    heavier,    and    lighter  than  something  else,  not  than 

itself,   and  this   seems  to  be  true  of  all  relative  notions — the  object  of 

relation  is   outside   of  them ;  at   any  rate  they   can  only  have  relation 

to  themselves  in  the  form  of  that  object.     Whether  there  are  any  such 

cases  of  reflex  relation  or  not,  and  whether  that  sort  of  knowledge  which 

we  term  Temperance  is  of  this  reflex  nature,  has  yet  to  be  determined 

by  the  great  metaphysician.     But  even  if  knowledge  can  know  itself, 

how  does  the  knowledge  of  what  we  know  imply  the  knowledge  of  what 

we  do  not  know  ?     Besides,  knowledge  is  an  abstraction  only,  and  will 

not  inform  us  of  any  particular  subject,  such  as  medicine,  building,  and 

the  like.    It  may  tell  us  that  we  or  other  men  know  something,  but  can 

never  tell  us  what  we  know. 

Admitting  that  there  is  a  knowledge  of  what  we  know  and  of  what 
we  do  not  know,  which  would  supply  a  rule  and  measure  of  all  things, 
still  there  would  be  no  good  in  this;  and  the  knowledge  which 
temperance  gives  must  be  of  a  kind  which  will  do  us  good;  for 
temperance  is  a  good.  But  this  universal  knowledge  does  not  tend  to 
our  happiness  and  good  :  the  only  kind  of  knowledge  which  brings 
happiness  is  the  knowledge  of  good  and  evil.  To  this  Critias  replies 
that  the  science  or  knowledge  of  good  and  evil,  and  all  the  other 


sciences,  are  regulated  by  the  higher  science  or  knowledge  of  know 
ledge.  Socrates  replies  by  again  dividing  the  abstract  from  the  con 
crete,  and  asks  how  this  knowledge  conduces  to  happiness  in  the 
same  definite  way  in  which  medicine  conduces  to  health. 

And  now,  after  making  all  these  concessions,  which  are  really  inad 
missible,  we  are  still  as  far  as  ever  from  ascertaining  the  nature  of 
temperance,  which  Charmides  has  already  discovered,  and  had  therefore 
better  rest  in  the  knowledge  that  the  more  temperate  he  is  the  happier 
he  will  be,  and  not  trouble  himself  with  the  speculations  of  Socrates. 

In  this  Dialogue  may  be  noted  (i)  The  Greek  ideal  of  beauty  and 
goodness,  the  vision  of  the  fair  soul  in  the  fair  body,  realised  in  the  beau 
tiful  Charmides;  (2)  The  true  conception  of  medicine  as  a  science  of 
the  whole  as  well  as  the  parts,  and  of  the  mind  as  well  as  the  body, 
which  is  playfully  intimated  in  the  story  of  the  Thracian;  (3)  The 
tendency  of  the  age  to  verbal  distinctions,  which  here,  as  in  the  Prota 
goras  and  Cratylus,  are  ascribed  to  the  ingenuity  of  Prodicus  ;  and  to 
interpretations  or  rather  parodies  of  Homer  or  Hesiod,  which  are 
eminently  characteristic  of  Plato  and  his  contemporaries  ;  (4)  The 
germ  of  an  ethical  principle  contained  in  the  notion  that  temperance 
is  '  doing  one's  own  business/  which  in  the  Republic  (such  is  the  shift 
ing  character  of  the  Platonic  philosophy)  is  given  as  the  definition,  not 
of  temperance,  but  of  justice  ;  (5)  The  impatience  which  is  exhibited 
by  Socrates  of  any  definition  of  temperance  in  which  an  element  of 
science  or  knowledge  is  not  included;  (6)  The  beginning  of  meta 
physics  and  logic  implied  in  the  two  questions :  whether  there  can  be 
a  science  of  science,  and  whether  the  knowledge  of  what  you  know 
is  the  same  as  the  knowledge  of  what  you  do  not  know ;  and  also 
in  the  distinction  between  l  what  you  know '  and  '  that  you  know,' 
a  olbfv  and  on.  ofSez/;  here  too  is  the  first  conception  of  an  absolute 
self-determined  science  (the  claims  of  which,  however,  are  disputed  by 
Socrates,  who  asks  cut  lono  ?}  as  well  as  the  first  suggestion  of  the 
difficulty  of  the  abstract  and  concrete,  and  one  of  the  earliest  anti 
cipations  of  the  relation  of  subject  and  object,  and  of  the  subjective 
element  in  knowledge — a  '  rich  banquet'  of  metaphysical  questions  in 
which  we  'taste  of  many  things.'  (7)  The  conception  of  a  science  of 
good  and  evil  also  first  occurs  here,  an  anticipation  of  the  Philebus 
and  Republic,  as  well  as  of  moral  philosophy  in  later  ages  ;  (8)  We 
may  observe  that  a  practice  of  virtue  without  philosophy  is  attributed 


to  Charmides,  who  already  possesses  that  of  which  he  and  Socrates 
are  seeking  an  explanation. 

The  dramatic  interest  of  the  Dialogue  chiefly  centres  in  the  youth 
Charmides,  with  whom  Socrates  talks  in  the  kindly  spirit  of  an  elder. 
His  youthful  simplicity  and  ingenuousness  are  contrasted  with  the  dia 
lectical  and  rhetorical  arts  of  Critias,  who  is  the  grown-up  man  of  the 
world,  having  a  tincture  of  philosophy.  No  hint  is  given,  either  here  or 
in  the  Timaeus,  of  the  infamy  which  attaches  to  the  name  of  the  latter 
in  Athenian  history.  He  is  simply  a  cultivated  person  who,  like  his 
kinsman  Plato,  is  ennobled  by  the  connection  of  his  family  with  Solon 
(cp.  Tim.  20,  21),  and  had  been  the  follower,  if  not  the  disciple,  both 
of  Socrates  and  of  the  Sophists.  In  the  argument  he  is  not  unfair,  if 
allowance  is  made  for  a  slight  rhetorical  tendency,  and  for  a  natural 
desire  to  save  his  reputation  with  the  company ;  he  is  sometimes  nearer 
the  truth  than  Socrates.  Nothing  in  his  language  or  behaviour  is 
unbecoming  the  guardian  of  the  beautiful  Charmides.  His  love  of 
reputation  is  characteristically  Greek,  and  contrasts  with  the  humility 
of  Socrates.  Nor  in  Charmides  himself  do  we  find  any  resemblance 
to  the  Charmides  of  history,  except,  perhaps,  the  modest  and  retiring 
nature  which,  according  to  Xenophon,  at  one  time  of  his  life  prevented 
him  from  speaking  in  the  Assembly  (Mem.  3,7);  and  we  are  surprised 
to  hear  that,  like  Critias,  he  afterwards  became  one  of  the  thirty  tyrants. 
In  the  Dialogue  he  is  a  pattern  of  virtue,  and  is  therefore  in  no  need  of 
the  charm  which  Socrates  is  unable  to  apply.  With  youthful  naivete, 
keeping  his  secret  and  entering  into  the  spirit  of  Socrates,  he  enjoys 
the  detection  of  his  elder  and  guardian  Critias,  who  is  easily  seen  to 
be  the  author  of  the  definition  which  he  has  so  great  an  interest  in 
maintaining  (262  B).  The  preceding  definition,  'justice  is  doing  one's 
own  business/  is  assumed  to  have  been  borrowed  by  Charmides  from 
another ;  and  when  the  enquiry  becomes  more  abstract  he  is  superseded 
by  Critias:  cp.  Theaet.  168  E;  Euthyd.  290  E.  Socrates  preserves  his 
accustomed  irony  to  the  end;  he  is  in  the  neighbourhood  of  several 
great  truths,  which  he  views  in  various  lights,  but  always  either  by 
bringing  them  to  the  test  of  common  sense,  or  by  demanding  too 
great  exactness  in  the  use  of  words,  turns  aside  from  them  and  comes 
at  last  to  no  conclusion. 

The  definitions  of  temperance  proceed  in  regular  order  from  the 
popular  to  the  philosophical.  The  first  two  are  simple  enough  and  par- 


tially  true,  like  the  first  thoughts  of  an  intelligent  youth ;  the  third,  which 
is  a  real  contribution  to  ethical  philosophy,  is  perverted  by  the  ingenuity 
of  Socrates,  and  hardly  rescued  by  an  equal  perversion  on  the  part  of 
Critias.  The  remaining  definitions  have  a  higher  aim,  which  is  to  intro 
duce  the  element  of  knowledge,  and  at  last  to  unite  good  and  truth  in  a 
single  science.  But  the  time  has  not  yet  arrived  for  the  realization  of 
this  vision  of  metaphysical  philosophy ;  and  such  a  science  when  brought 
nearer  to  us  in  the  Philebus  and  the  Republic  will  not  be  called  by  the 
name  of  o-axfipoo-vvrj.  Hence  we  see  with  surprise  that  Plato,  who  in 
his  other  writings  identifies  good  and  knowledge,  here  opposes  them, 
and  asks,  almost  in  the  spirit  of  Aristotle,  how  can  there  be  a  know 
ledge  of  knowledge,  and  even  if  attainable,  how  can  such  a  knowledge 
be  of  any  use  ? 

The  relations  of  knowledge  and  virtue  are  again  brought  forward  in 
the  companion  Dialogues  of  the  Lysis  and  Laches  ;  and  also  in  the 
Protagoras  and  Euthydemus.  The  opposition  of  abstract  and  particular 
knowledge  in  this  Dialogue  may  be  compared  with  a  similar  opposition 
of  ideas  and  phenomena  which  occurs  in  the  Introduction  to  the 
Parmenides,  but  seems  rather  to  belong  to  a  later  stage  of  the 
philosophy  of  Plato. 



SOCRATES,  ivho  is  the  narrator.  CHARMIDES. 


SCENE  : — The  Palaestra  of  Taurcas,  which  is  near  the  Porch  of  the 
King  Archon. 

Steph.'\7rESTERDAY  evening  I  returned  from  the  army  at  Poti- 
153  I.  daca,  and  having  been  a  good  while  away,  I  thought 
that  I  would  go  and  look  at  my  old  haunts.  So  I  went  into 
the  palaestra  of  Taureas,  which  is  over  against  the  temple 
adjoining  the  porch  of  the  King  Archon,  and  there  I  found  a 
number  of  persons,  most  of  whom  I  knew,  but  not  all.  My 
visit  was  unexpected,  and  no  sooner  did  they  see  me  entering 
than  they  saluted  me  from  afar  on  all  sides  ;  and  Chacrephon, 
who  is  a  kind  of  madman,  started  up  and  ran  to  me,  seizing  my 
hand,  and  saying,  How  did  you  escape,  Socrates  ?— (I  should 
explain  that  an  engagement  had  taken  place  at  Potidaea  not 
long  before  we  came  away,  the  news  of  which  had  only  just 
reached  Athens.) 

You  see,  I  replied,  that  here  I  am. 

There  was  a  report,  he  said,  that  the  engagement  was  very 
severe,  and  that  many  of  our  acquaintance  had  fallen. 

That,  I  replied,  was  not  far  from  the  truth. 

I  suppose,  he  said,  that  you  were  present. 

I  was. 

Then  sit  down,  and  tell  us  the  whole  story,  which  as  yet  we 
have  only  heard  imperfectly. 

I  took  the  place  which  he  assigned  to  me,  by  the  side  of 
Critias  the  son  of  Callacschrus,  and  when  I  had  saluted  him 


and  the  rest  of  the  company,  I  told  them  the  news  from  the 
army,  and  answered  their  several  enquiries. 

Then,  when  there  had  been  enough  of  this,  I,  in  my  turn, 
began  to  make  enquiries  about  matters  at  home — about  the  pre 
sent  state  of  philosophy,  and  about  the  youth.  I  asked  whether 
any  of  them  were  remarkable  for  wisdom  or  beauty,  or  both. 
Critias,  glancing  at  the  door,  invited  my  attention  to  some  154 
youths  who  were  coming  in,  and  talking  noisily  to  one  another, 
followed  by  a  crowd.  Of  the  beauties,  Socrates,  he  said,  I  fancy 
that  you  will  soon  be  able  to  form  a  judgment.  For  those  who 
are  just  entering  are  the  advanced  guard  of  the  great  beauty  of 
the  day,  and  he  is  likely  to  be  not  far  oft"  himself. 

Who  is  he,  I  said  ;   and  who  is  his  father  ? 

Charmides,  he  replied,  is  his  name ;  he  is  my  cousin,  and  the 
son  of  my  uncle  Glaucon:  I  rather  think  that  you  know  him, 
although  he  was  not  grown  up  at  the  time  of  your  departure. 

Certainly,  I  know  him,  I  said,  for  he  was  remarkable  even 
then  when  he  was  still  a  child,  and  I  should  imagine  that  now 
he  must  be  almost  a  young  man. 

You  will  see,  he  said,  in  a  moment  what  progress  he  has 
made  and  what  he  is  like.  He  had  scarcely  said  the  word,  when 
Charmides  entered. 

Now  you  know,  my  friend,  that  I  cannot  measure  anything, 
and  of  the  beautiful,  I  am  simply  such  a  measure  as  a  white 
line  is  of  chalk  ;  for  almost  all  young  persons  appear  to  be 
beautiful  in  my  eyes.  But  at  that  moment,  when  I  saw  him 
coming  in,  I  confess  that  I  was  quite  astonished  at  his  beauty 
and  stature ;  all  the  world  seemed  to  be  enamoured  of  him  ; 
amazement  and  confusion  reigned  when  he  entered ;  and  a 
troop  of  lovers  followed  him.  That  grown-up  men  like  our 
selves  should  have  been  affected  in  this  way  was  not  surprising, 
but  I  observed  that  there  was  the  same  feeling  among  the 
boys ;  all  of  them,  down  to  the  very  least  child,  turned  and 
looked  at  him,  as  if  he  had  been  a  statue. 

Chaerephon  called  me  and  said  :  What  do  you  think  of  him, 
Socrates  ?  Has  he  not  a  beautiful  face  ? 

Most  beautiful,  I  said. 

But  you  would  think  nothing  of  his  face,  he  replied,  if  you 
could  see  his  naked  form  :  he  is  absolutely  perfect. 


And  to  this  they  all  agreed. 

By  Heracles,  I  said,  there  never  was  such  a  paragon,  if  he  has 
only  one  other  slight  addition. 

What  is  that  ?   said  Critias. 

If  he  has  a  noble  soul ;  and  being  of  your  house,  Critias,  he 
may  be  expected  to  have  this. 

He  is  as  fair  and  good  within,  as  he  is  without,  replied 

Then,  before  we  see  his  body,  should  we  not  ask  him  to  show 
us  his  soul,  naked  and  undisguised  ;  he  is  just  of  an  age  at 
which  he  will  like  to  talk. 

155  That  he  will,  said  Critias,  and  I  can  tell  you  that  he  is  a 
philosopher  already,  and  also  a  considerable  poet,  not  in  his 
own  opinion  only,  but  in  that  of  others. 

That,  my  dear  Critias,  I  replied,  is  a  distinction  which  has 
long  been  in  your  family,  and  is  inherited  by  you  from  Solon. 
But  why  do  you  not  call  him,  and  show  him  to  us?  for  even 
if  he  were  younger  than  he  is,  there  could  be  no  impropriety  in 
his  talking  to  us  in  the  presence  of  you,  wrho  are  his  guardian 
and  cousin. 

Very  well,  he  said  ;  then  I  will  call  him  ;  and  turning  to  the 
attendant,  he  said,  Call  Charmides,  and  tell  him  that  I  want 
him  to  come  and  see  a  physician  about  the  illness  of  which  he 
spoke  to  me  the  day  before  yesterday.  Then  again  addressing 
me,  he  added  :  He  has  been  complaining  lately  of  having  a 
headache  when  he  rises  in  the  morning :  now  why  should  you 
not  make  him  believe  that  you  know  a  cure  for  the  headache  ? 

There  will  be  no  difficulty  about  that,  I  said,  if  he  comes. 

He  will  be  sure  to  come,  he  replied. 

He  came  as  he  was  bidden,  and  sat  down  between  Critias 
and  me.  Great  amusement  was  occasioned  by  every  one  push 
ing  with  might  and  main  at  his  neighbour  in  order  to  make 
a  place  for  him  next  to  them,  until  at  the  two  ends  of  the  row 
one  had  to  get  up  and  the  other  was  rolled  over  sideways. 
Now  I,  my  friend,  was  beginning  to  feel  awkward  ;  my  former 
bold  belief  in  my  powers  of  conversing  with  him  had  vanished. 
And  when  Critias  told  him  that  I  was  the  person  who  had  the 
cure,  he  looked  at  me  in  such  an  indescribable  manner,  and 
was  going  to  ask  a  question  ;  and  then  all  the  people  in  the 



palaestra  crowded  about  us,  and,  O  rare !  I  caught  a  sight  of 
the  inwards  of  his  garment,  and  took  the  flame.  Then  I  could 
no  longer  contain  myself.  I  thought  how  well  Cydias  under 
stood  the  nature  of  love,  when,  in  speaking  of  a  fair  youth,  he 
warns  some  one  '  not  to  bring  the  fawn  in  the  sight  of  the  lion 
to  be  devoured  by  him,'  for  I  felt  that  I  had  been  overcome 
by  a  sort  of  wild-beast  appetite.  But  I  controlled  myself,  and 
when  he  asked  me  if  I  knew  the  cure  of  the  headache,  I 
answered,  but  with  an  effort,  that  I  did  know. 

And  what  is  it?   he  said. 

I  replied  that  it  was  a  kind  of  leaf,  which  required  to  be  ac 
companied  by  a  charm,  and  if  a  person  would  repeat  the  charm 
at  the  same  time  that  he  used  the  cure,  he  would  be  made  whole; 
but  that  without  the  charm  the  leaf  would  be  of  no  avail. 

Then  I  will  write  out  the  charm  from  your  dictation,  he  said.  156 

With  my  good  will  ?   I  said,  or  without  my  good  will  ? 

With  your  good  will,  Socrates,  he  said,  laughing. 

Very  good,  I  said?  and  are  you  quite  sure  that  you  know 
my  name  ? 

I  ought  to  know  you,  he  replied,  for  there  is  a  great  deal 
said  about  you  among  my  companions  ;  and  I  remember  when 
I  was  a  child  seeing  you  in  company  with  my  cousin  Critias. 

I  am  glad  to  find  that  you  remember  me,  I  said  ;  for  I  shall 
now  be  more  at  home  Avith  you  and  shall  be  better  able  to 
explain  the  nature  of  the  charm,  about  which  I  felt  a  difficulty 
before.  For  the  charm  will  do  more,  Charmides,  than,  only 
cure  the  headache.  I  dare  say  that  you  have  heard  eminent 
physicians  say  to  a  patient  who  comes  to  them  with  bad  eyes, 
that  they  cannot  cure  his  eyes  by  themselves,  but  that  if  his 
eyes  are  to  be  cured,  his  head  must  be  treated  ;  and  then  again 
they  say  that  to  think  of  curing  the  head  alone,  and  not  the 
rest  of  the  body  also,  is  the  height  of  folly.  And  arguing  in 
this  way  they  apply  their  methods  to  the  whole  body,  and  try 
to  treat  and  heal  the  whole  and  the  part  together.  Did  you 
ever  observe  that  this  is  what  they  say? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  they  are  right,  and  you  would  agree  with  them? 

Yes,  he  said,  certainly  I  should. 

His  approving  answers  reassured  me,  and  I  began  by  degrees 

CHARM  I  DBS.  13 

to  regain  confidence,  and  the  vital  heat  returned.  Such,  Char- 
mides,  I  said,  is  the  nature  of  the  charm,  which  I  learned  from 
one  of  the  physicians  of  the  Thracian  king  Zamolxis,  when 
serving  with  the  army.  He  was  one  of  those  who  are  said  to 
give  immortality.  This  Thracian  told  me  that  in  these  notions 
of  theirs,  which  I  was  mentioning,  the  Greek  physicians  are 
quite  right  as  far  as  they  go  ;  but  Zamolxis,  he  added,  our 
king,  who  is  also  a  god,  says  further,  '  that  as  you  ought  not  to 
attempt  to  cure  the  eyes  without  the  head,  or  the  head  without 
the  eyes,  so  neither  ought  you  to  attempt  to  cure  the  body 
without  the  soul ;  and  this,'  he  said,  '  is  the  reason  why  the  cure 
of  many  diseases  is  unknown  to  the  physicians  of  Hellas,  be 
cause  they  are  ignorant  of  the  whole,  which  ought  to  be  studied 
also  ;  for  the  part  can  never  be  well  unless  the  whole  is  well.' 
For  all  good  and  evil,  whether  in  the  body  or  in  human  nature, 
originates,  as  he  declared,  in  the  soul,  and  overflows  from  thence, 
1 57  as  from  the  head  into  the  eyes.  And  therefore  if  the  head  and 
body  are  to  be  well,  you  must  begin  by  curing  the  soul  ;  that 
is  the  first  thing.  And  the  cure,  my  dear  youth,  has  to  be 
effected  by  the  use  of  certain  charms,  and  these  charms  are  fair 
words  ;  and  by  them  temperance  is  implanted  in  the  soul,  and 
where  temperance  is,  there  health  is  speedily  imparted,  not 
only  to  the  head,  but  to  the  whole  bo.dy.  And  he  who  taught 
me  the  cure  and  the  charm  at  the  same  time  added  a  special 
direction :  '  Let  no  one,'  he  said,  '  persuade  you  to  cure  the 
head,  until  he  has  first  given  you  his  soul  to  be  cured  by  the 
charm.  For  this,'  he  said,  '  is  the  great  error  of  our  day  in  the 
treatment  of  the  human  body,  that  physicians  separate  the  soul 
from  the  body.'  And  he  added  with  emphasis,  at  the  same 
time  making  me  swear  to  his  words,  'let  no  one,  however  rich, 
or  noble,  or  fair,  persuade  you  to  give  him  the  cure,  without 
the  charm.'  Now  I  have  sworn,  and  I  must  keep  my  oath, 
and  therefore  if  you  will  allow  me  to  apply  the  Thracian  charm 
first  to  your  soul,  as  the  stranger  directed,  I  will  afterwards 
proceed  to  apply  the  cure  to  your  head.  But  if  not,  I  do  not 
know  what  I  am  to  do  with  you,  my  dear  Charmides. 

Critias,  when  he  heard  this,  said  :  The  headache  will  be  an 
unexpected  gain  to  my  young  relation,  if  the  pain  in  his  head 
compels  him  to  improve  his  mind  :  and  I  can  tell  you,  Socrates, 


that  Charmides  is  not  only  pre-eminent  in  beauty  among  his 
equals,  but  also  in  that  quality  which  is  given  by  the  charm  ; 
and  this,  as  you  say,  is  temperance  ? 

Yes,  I  said. 

Then  let  me  tell  you  that  he  is  the  most  temperate  of  human 
beings,  and  for  his  age  inferior  to  none  in  any  quality. 

Yes,  I  said,  Charmides  ;  and  indeed  I  think  that  you  ought 
to  excel  others  in  all  good  qualities  ;  for  if  I  am  not  mistaken 
there  is  no  one  present  who  could  easily  point  out  two  Athenian 
houses,  whose  union  would  be  likely  to  produce  a  better  or 
nobler  son  than  the  two  from  which  you  are  sprung.  There  is 
your  father's  house,  which  is  descended  from  Critias  the  son  of 
Dropidas,  whose  family  has  been  commemorated  in  the  pane 
gyrical  verses  of  Anacreon,  Solon,  and  many  other  poets,  as 
famous  for  beauty  and  virtue  and  all  other  high  fortune :  and 
your  mother's  house  is  equally  distinguished;  for  your  mater- 158 
nal  uncle,  Pyrilampes,  never  met  with  his  equal  in  Persia  at 
the  court  of  the  great  king,  or  on  the  continent  of  Asia,  in  all 
the  places  to  which  he  went  as  ambassador,  for  stature  and 
beauty  ;  that  whole  family  is  not  a  whit  inferior  to  the  other. 
Having  such  ancestors  you  ought  to  be  first  in  all  things,  and, 
sweet  son  of  Glaucon,  your  outward  form  is  no  dishonour  to 
any  of  them.  If  to  beauty  is  added  temperance,  then  blessed 
art  thou,  dear  Charmides,  in  being  the  son  of  thy  mother. 
And  here  lies  the  point;  for  if,  as  Critias  declares,  you  have 
this  gift  of  temperance  already,  and  are  temperate  enough,  in 
that  case  you  have  no  need  of  any  charms,  whether  of  Zamolxis 
or  of  Abaris  the  Hyperborean,  and  I  may  as  well  let  you 
have  the  cure  of  the  head  at  once  ;  but  if  you  are  wanting  in 
this  quality,  I  must  use  the  charm  before  I  give  you  the  medi 
cine.  Please,  therefore,  to  inform  me  whether  you  admit  the 
truth  of  what  Critias  has  been  saying :— have  you  or  have  you 
not  this  quality  of  temperance  ? 

Charmides  blushed,  and  the  blush  heightened  his  beauty,  for 
modesty  is  becoming  in  youth  ;  he  then  said  very  ingenuously, 
that  he  really  could  not  at  once  answer,  either  yes,  or  no,  to  the 
question  which  I  had  asked  :  For,  said  he,  if  I  affirm  that  I  am 
not  temperate,  that  would  be  a  strange  thing  for  me  to  say  of 
myself,  and  also  I  should  give  the  lie  to  Critias,  and  many  others 


who  think  that  I  am  temperate,  as  he  tells  you  :  but,  on  the 
other  hand,  if  I  say  that  I  am,  I  shall  have  to  praise  myself, 
which  would  be  ill  manners  ;  and  therefore  I  have  no  answer 
to  make  to  you. 

I  said  to  him  :  That  is  a  natural  reply,  Charmides,  and  I 
think  that  you  and  I  ought  together  to  enquire  whether  you 
have  this  quality  about  which  I  am  asking  or  not  ;  and  then 
you  will  not  be  compelled  to  say  what  you  do  not  like ;  neither 
shall  I  be  a  rash  practitioner  of  medicine  :  therefore,  if  you 
please,  I  will  share  the  enquiry  with  you,  but  I  will  not  press 
you  if  you  would  rather  not. 

There  is  nothing  which  I  should  like  better,  he  said  ;  and  as 
far  as  I  am  concerned  you  may  proceed  in  the  way  which  you 
think  best. 

I   think,   I   said,   that   I  had   better   begin    by  asking  you   a 

question  ;    for    if   temperance    abides    in    you,    you    must    have 

1 59  an  opinion  about  her;    she  must  give  some  intimation   of  her 

nature  and  qualities,  which  may  enable  you  to  form  a  notion 

of  her.     Is  not  that  true  ? 

Yes,  he  said,  that  I  think  is  true. 

You   know  your  native  language,  I   said,  and   therefore  you 
must  be  able  to  tell  what  you  feel  about  this. 
Certainly,  he  said. 

In  order,  then,  that  I  may  form  a  conjecture  whether  you  have 
temperance  abiding  in  you  or  not,  tell  me,  I  said,  what,  in  your 
opinion,  is  Temperance  ? 

At  first  he  hesitated,  and  was  very  unwilling  to  answer  :  then 
he  said  that  he  thought  temperance  was  doing  things  orderly 
and  quietly,  such  things  for  example  as  walking  in  the  streets, 
and  talking,  or  anything  else  of  that  nature.  In  a  word,  he  said, 
I  should  answer  that,  in  my  opinion,  temperance  is  quietness. 

Are  you  right,  Charmides  ?  I  said.  No  doubt  some  would 
affirm  that  the  quiet  are  the  temperate  ;  but  let  us  sec  whether 
there  is  any  meaning  in  this  ;  and  first  tell  me  whether  you 
would  not  acknowledge  temperance  to  be  of  the  class  of  the 
noble  and  good  ? 

But  which  is  best  when  you  are  at  the  writing-master's,  to 
write  the  same  letters  quickly  or  quietly  ? 



And  to  read  quickly  or  slowly? 

Quickly  again. 

And  in  playing  the  lyre,  or  wrestling,  quickness  or  cleverness 
are  far  better  than  quietness  and  slowness  ? 


And  the  same  holds  in  boxing  and  in  the  pancratium  ? 


And  in  leaping  and  running,  and  bodily  exercises  generally, 
quickness  and  agility  are  good  ;  slowness,  and  inactivity,  and 
quietness,  are  bad? 

That  is  evident. 

Then,  I  said,  in  all  bodily  actions,  not  quietness,  but  the 
greatest  agility  and  quickness,  is  noblest  and  best  ? 

Yes,  certainly. 

And  is  temperance  a  good  ? 


Then,  in  reference  to  the  body,  not  quietness,  but  quickness  will 
be  the  higher  degree  of  temperance,  if  temperance  is  a  good  ? 

True,  he  said. 

And  which,  I  said,  is  better — facility  in  learning,  or  difficulty 
in  learning  ? 


Yes,  I  said  ;  and  facility  in  learning  is  learning  quickly,  and 
difficulty  in  learning  is  learning  quietly  and  slowly? 


And  is  it  not  better  to   teach  one  another  quickly  and  ener 
getically,  rather  than  quietly  and  slowly? 
'  Yes. 

And  to  call  to  mind,  and  to  remember,  quickly  and  readily— 
that  is  also  better  than  to  remember  quietly  and  slowly  ? 


And  is  not  shrewdness  a  quickness  or  cleverness  of  the  soul,  1 60 
and  not  a  quietness  ? 


And  is  it  not  best  to  understand  what  is  said, 'whether  at  the 
writing-master's  or  the  music-master's,  or  anywhere  else,  not  as 
quietly  as  possible,  but  as  quickly  as  possible  ? 



And  when  the  soul  enquires,  and  in  deliberations,  not  the 
quietest,  as  I  imagine,  and  he  who  with  difficulty  deliberates  and 
discovers,  is  thought  worthy  of  praise,  but  he  who  does  this  most 
easily  and  quickly  ? 

That  is  true,  he  said. 

And  in  all  that  concerns  either  body  or  soul,  swiftness  and 
activity  are  clearly  better  than  slowness  and  quietness  ? 

That,  he  said,  is  the  inference. 

Then  temperance  is  not  quietness,  nor  is  the  temperate  life 
quiet, — certainly  not  upon  this  view  ;  for  the  life  which  is  temper 
ate  is  supposed  to  be  the  good.  And  of  two  things,  one  is  true, — • 
either  never,  or  very  seldom,  do  the  quiet  actions  in  life  appear 
to  be  better  than  the  quick  and  energetic  ones  ;  or  supposing 
that  of  the  nobler  actions,  there  are  as  many  quiet,  as  quick 
and  vehement :  still,  even  if  we  grant  this,  temperance  will  not 
be  acting  quietly  any  more  than  acting  quickly  and  energeti 
cally,  either  in  walking,  or  in  anything  else  ;  nor  will  the  quiet 
life  be  more  temperate  than  the  unquiet,  seeing  that  temperance 
is  admitted  by  us  to  be  a  good  and  noble  thing,  and  the  quick 
have  been  shown  to  be  as  good  as  the  quiet. 
Q  I  think,  he  said,  Socrates,  that  you  are  right. 

Then  once  more,  Charmides,  I  said,  fix  your  attention,  and 
look  within ;  consider  the  effect  which  temperance  has  upon 
yourself,  and  the  nature  of  that  which  has  the  effect.  Think 
over  all  this,  and,  like  a  brave  youth,  tell  me — What  is  tem 
perance  ? 

After  a  moment's  pause,  in  which  he  made  a  real  manly  effort 
to  think,  he  said :  My  opinion  is,  Socrates,  that  temperance 
makes  a  man  ashamed  or  modest,  and  that  temperance  is 
the  same  as  modesty. 

Very  good,  I  said  ;  and  did  you  not  admit,  just  now,  that 
temperance  is  noble  ? 

Yes,  certainly,  he  said. 

And  the  temperate  are  also  good  ? 


And  can  that  be  good  which  does  not  make  men  good  ? 

Certainly  not. 

And  you  would  infer  that  temperance  is  not  only  noble,  but 
also  good  ? 

VOL.  I.  C 


That  is  my  opinion.  161 

Well,  I  said  ;  and  surely  you  would  agree  with  Homer  when 

he  says, 

f  Modesty  is  not  good  for  a  needy  man '  ? 

Yes,  he  said  ;  I  agree  to  that. 

Then  I  suppose  that  modesty  is  and  is  not  good  ? 

That  is  plain. 

But  temperance,  whose  presence  makes  men  only  good,  and 
not  bad,  is  always  good  ? 

That  appears  to  me  to  be  as  you  say. 

And  the  inference  is  that  temperance  cannot  be  modesty — if 
temperance  is  a  good,  and  if  modesty  is  as  much  an  evil  as  a 
good  ? 

All  that,  Socrates,  appears  to  me  to  be  true ;  but  I  should 
like  to  know  what  you  think  about  another  definition  of  tem 
perance,  which  I  just  now  remember  to  have  heard  from  some 
one,  who  said,  '  That  temperance  is  doing  our  own  business.' 
Was  he  right  who  affirmed  that  ? 

You  monster !  I  said  ;  this  is  what  Critias,  or  some  philosopher 
has  told  you. 

Some  one  else,  then,  said  Critias  ;  for  certainly  I  have  not. 

But  what  matter,  said  Charmides,  from  whom  I  heard  this  ? 

No  matter  at  all,  I  replied  ;  for  the  point  is  not  who  said  the 
words,  but  whether  they  are  true  or  not. 

There  you  are  in  the  right,  Socrates,  he  replied. 

To  be  sure,  I  said  ;  yet  I  doubt  whether  we  shall  ever  be 
able  to  discover  their  truth  or  falsehood  ;  for  they  are  a 

What  makes  you  think  that  ?  he  said. 

Because,  I  said,  he  who  uttered  them  seems  to  me  to  have 
meant  one  thing,  and  said  another.  Is  the  scribe,  for  example,  to 
be  regarded  as  doing  nothing  when  he  reads  or  writes  ? 

I  should  rather  think  that  he  was  doing  something. 

And  does  the  scribe  write  or  read,  or  teach  you  boys  to  write 
or  read,  your  own  names  only,  or  did  you  write  your  enemies' 
names  as  well  as  your  own  and  your  friends'  ? 

As  much  one  as  the  other. 

And  was  there  anything  meddling  or  intemperate  in  this  ? 

Certainly  not. 


And  yet  if  reading  and  writing  are  the  same  as  doing,  you 
were  doing  what  was  not  your  own  business  ? 

But  they  arc  the  same  as  doing. 

And  the  healing  art,  my  friend,  and  building,  and  weaving, 
and  doing  anything  whatever  which  is  done  by  art,  all  come 
under. the  head  of  doing? 


And  do  you  think  that  a  state  would   be  well  ordered   by  a 
law  which  compelled  every  man  to  weave  and  wash  his  own  coat, 
and  make  his  own  shoes,  and  his  own  flask  and  strigil,  and  other 
162  implements,  on  this  principle  of  every  one  doing  and  perform 
ing-  his  own,  and  abstaining  from  what  is  not  his  own  ? 

I  think  not,  he  said. 

But,  I  said,  a  temperate  state  will  be  a  well-ordered  state. 

Of  course,  he  replied. 

Then  temperance,  I  said,  will  not  be  doing  one's  own  busi 
ness  ;  not  at  least  in  this  way,  or  doing  these  sort  of  things  ? 

Clearly  not. 

Then,  as  I  was  just  now  saying,  he  who  declared  that  tem 
perance  is  a  man  doing  his  own  business  had  another  and  a 
hidden  meaning;  for  I  do  not  think  that  he  could  have  been 
such  a  fool  as  to  mean  this.  Was  he  a  fool  who  told  you, 
Charmides  ? 

Nay,  he  replied,  I  certainly  thought  him  a  very  wise  man. 

Then  I  am  quite  certain  that  he  put  forth  his  definition  as  a 
riddle,  thinking  that  no  one  would  know  the  meaning  of  the 
words  '  doing  his  own  business.' 

I  dare  say,  he  replied. 

And  what  is  the  meaning  of  a  man  doing  his  own  business  ? 
Can  you  tell  me  ? 

Indeed,  I  cannot ;  and  I  should  not  wonder  if  he  who  said  this 
did  not  understand  what  he  was  saying.  Whereupon  he  laughed 
slyly,  and  looked  at  Critias. 

I  OCritias  had  long  been  showing  uneasiness,  for  he  felt  that  he 
had  a  reputation  to  maintain  with  Charmides  and  the  rest  of 
the  company.  He  had,  however,  hitherto  managed  to  restrain 
himself;  but  now  he  could  no  longer  forbear,  and  his  eager 
ness  satisfied  me  of  the  truth  of  my  suspicion,  that  Charmides 
had  heard  this  answer  about  temperance  from  Critias.  And 

C  2 


Charmides,  who  did  not  want  to  answer  himself,  but  to  make 
Critias  answer,  tried  to  stir  him  up.  He  went  on  pointing  out 
that  he  had  been  refuted,  at  which  Critias  grew  angry,  and 
appeared,  as  I  thought,  inclined  to  quarrel  with  him  ;  just  as 
a  poet  might  quarrel  with  an  actor  who  spoiled  his  poems  in 
repeating  them;  so  he  looked  hard  at  him  and  said- 

Do  you  imagine,  Charmides,  that  the  author  of  the  definition 
of  temperance  did  not  understand  the  meaning  of  his  own 
words,  because  you  do  not  understand  them  ? 

Why,  at  his  age,  I  said,  most  excellent  Critias,  he  can 
hardly  be  expected  to  understand  ;  but  you,  who  are  older,  and 
have  studied,  may  well  be  assumed  to  know  the  meaning  of 
them  ;  and  therefore,  if  you  agree  with  him,  and  accept  his 
definition  of  temperance,  I  would  much  rather  argue  with  you 
than  with  him  about  the  truth  or  falsehood  of  the  definition. 

I  entirely  agree,  said  Critias,  and  accept  the  definition. 

Very  good,  I  said  ;  and  now  let  me  repeat  my  question—  Do 
you  admit,  as  I  was  just  now  saying,  that  all  craftsmen  make 
or  do  something  ? 

I  do. 

And  do  they  make  or  do  their  own  business  only,  or  that  of  163 
others  also  ? 

They  make  that  of  others  also. 

And  are  they  temperate,  seeing  that  they  make  not  for  them 
selves  or  their  own  business  only  ? 

Why  not  ?  he  said. 

No  objection  on  my  part,  I  said,  but  there  may  be  a 
difficulty  on  his  who  proposes  as  a  definition  of  temperance, 
1  doing  one's  own  business,'  and  then  says  that  there  is  no 
reason  why  those  who  do  the  business  of  others  should  not  be 

Nay1,  said  he;   did  I  ever   acknowledge   that  those  who  do_ 
the  business  of  others  are  temperate  ?    I  said,  those  who  make, 
not  those  who  do. 

What  !  I  asked  ;  do  you  mean  to  say  that  doing  and  making 
are  not  the  same  ? 

No  more,  he  replied,  than  making  or  working  are  the  same  ; 

1  The  English  reader  has  to  observe  that  the  word  'make'  (TroifZi/),  in 
Greek  has  also  the  sense  of  'do' 


that  I  have  learned  from  Hesiod,  who  says  that  'work  is  no 
disgrace.'  Now  do  you  imagine  that  if  he  had  meant  by 
working  such  things  as  you  were  describing,  he  would  have  said 
that  there  was  no  disgrace  in  them  ?  in  making  shoes,  for  ex 
ample,  or  in  selling  pickles,  or  sitting  for  hire  in  a  house  of  ill 
fame.  That,  Socrates,  is  not  to  be  supposed  :  but  I  conceive 
him  to  have  distinguished  making  from  action  and  work  ;  and, 
while  admitting  that  the  making  anything  might  sometimes 
become  a  disgrace,  when  the  employment  was  not  honourable,  to 
have  thought  that  work  was  never  any  disgrace  at  all.  For 
things  nobly  and  usefully  made  he  called  works  ;  and  such 
makings  he  called  workings,  and  doings  ;  and  he  must  be  sup 
posed  to  have  called  such  things  only  man's  proper  business, 
and  what  is  hurtful,  not  his  business:  and  in  that  sense  Hesiod, 
and  any  other  wise  man,  may  be  reasonably  supposed  to  call 
him  wise  who  does  his  own  work. 

0  Critias,  I  said,  no  sooner  had  you  opened  your  mouth,  than 
I  pretty  well  knew  that  you  would  call  that  which  is  proper  to 
a  man,  and  that  which  is  his  own,  good  ;  and  that  the  makings 
(77CH?i<jei9)  of  the  good  you  would  call  doings  (Trpa^eis),  for  I  have 
heard  Prodicus  drawing  endless  distinctions  about  names.      Now 
I  have  no  objection  to  your  giving  names  any  signification  which 
you  please,  if  you  will  only  tell  me  what  you  mean  by  them. 
Please  then  to  begin  again,  and  be  a  little  plainer.    Do  you  mean 
that  this  doing  or  making,  or  whatever  is  the  word  which  you 
would  use,  of  good  actions,  is  temperance  ? 

1  do,  he  said. 

Then  not  he  who  does  evil,  but  he  who  does  good,  is  tem 
perate  ? 

Yes,  he  said  ;  and  you  would  agree  to  that. 

Never  mind  whether  I  agree  or  not  ;  as  yet  we  arc  only  con 
cerned  with  your  meaning. 

Well,  he  answered  ;  I  mean  to  say,  that  he  who  does  evil, 
and  not  good,  is  not  temperate  ;  and  that  he  is  temperate  who 
does  good,  and  not  evil :  for  temperance  I  define  in  plain  words 
to  be  the  doing  of  good  actions. 

164  And  you  may  be  very  likely  right  in  that,  I  said;  but  I  am 
curious  to  know  whether  you  imagine  that  temperate  men  arc 
ignorant  of  their  own  temperance  ? 


I  do  not  imagine  that,  he  said. 

And  yet  were  you  not  saying,  just  now,  that  craftsmen  might 
be  temperate  in  doing  another's  work,  as  well  as  in  doing  their 
own  ? 

Yes,  I  was,  he  replied  ;  but  why  do  you  refer  to  that  ? 

I  have  no  particular  reason,  but  I  wish  that  you  would  tell  me 
whether  a  physician  who  cures  a  patient  may  do  good  to  him 
self  and  good  to  another  also  ? 

I  think  that  he  may. 

And  he  who  does  this  does  his  duty.  And  does  not  he  who 
does  his  duty  act  temperately  or  wisely  ? 

Yes,  he  acts  wisely. 

But  must  the  physician  necessarily  know  when  his  treatment 
is  likely  to  prove  beneficial,  and  when  not  ?  or  must  the  crafts 
man  necessarily  know  when  he  is  likely  to  be  benefited,  and 
when  not  to  be  benefited,  by  the  work  which  he  is  doing  ? 

I  suppose  not. 

Then,  I  said,  he  may  sometimes  do  good  or  harm,  and  not 
know  what  he  is  himself  doing,  and  yet,  in  doing  good,  as  you 
say,  he  has  done  temperately  or  wisely.  Was  not  that  your 
statement  ? 


Then,  as  would  seem,  in  doing  good,  he  may  act  wisely  or 
temperately,  and  be  wise  or  temperate,  but  not  know  his  own 
wisdom  or  temperance  ? 

But  that,  Socrates,  he  said,  is  impossible;  and  therefore  if 
that  is,  as  you  imply,  the  necessary  consequence  of  any  of  my 
previous  admissions,  I  will  withdraw  them,  rather  than  admit 
that  a  man  can  be  temperate  or  wise  who  does  not  know 
himself;  and  I  am  not  ashamed  to  confess  that  I  was  in  error. 
For  self-knowledge  would  certainly  be  maintained  by  me  to 
be  the  very  essence  of  knowledge,  and  in  this  I  agree  with 
him  who  dedicated  the  inscription,  'Know  thyself!'  at  Delphi. 
That  word,  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  is  put  there  as  a  sort  of 
salutation  which  the  god  addresses  to  those  who  enter  the 
temple;  as  much  as  to  say  that  the  ordinary  salutation  of 
'Hail!'  is  not  right,  and  that  the  exhortation  'Be  temperate!' 
would  be  a  far  better  way  of  saluting  one  another.  The 
notion  of  him  who  dedicated  the  inscription  was,  as  I  believe, 


that  the  god  speaks  to  those  who  enter  his  temple  not  as 
men  speak ;  but,  when  a  worshipper  enters,  the  first  word 
which  he  hears  is  'Be  temperate!'  This,  however,  like  a 
prophet  he  expresses  in  a  sort  of  riddle,  for  'Know  thyself!' 
and  'Be  temperate!'  are  the  same,  as  I  maintain,  and  as  the 
writing  implies  [o-co^porei,  yv&Qi  o-emrroV],  and  yet  they  may 
165  be  easily  misunderstood  ;  and  succeeding  sages  who  added 
'Never  too  much,'  or,  'Give  a  pledge,  and  evil  is  nigh  at 
hand,'  would  appear  to  have  misunderstood  them ;  for  they 
imagined  that  'Know  thyself!'  was  a  piece  of  advice  which 
the  god  gave,  and  not  his  salutation  of  the  worshippers  at 
their  first  coming  in  ;  and  they  wrote  their  inscription  under 
the  idea  that  they  would  give  equally  useful  pieces  of  advice. 
Shall  I  tell  you,  Socrates,  why  I  say  all  this  ?  My  object  is 
to  leave  the  previous  discussion  (in  which  I  know  not  whether 
you  or  I  are  more  right,  but,  at  any  rate,  no  clear  result  was 
attained),  and  to  raise  a  new  one  in  which  I  will  attempt  to 
prove,  if  you  deny,  that  temperance  is  self-knowledge. 
\*  Yes,  I  said,  Critias  ;  but  you  come  to  me  as  though  I  pro 
fessed  to  know  about  the  questions  which  I  ask,  and  as  though 
I  could,  if  only  I  would,  agree  with  you2.  Whereas  the  fact  is 
that  I  enquire  with  you  into  the  truth  of  that  which  is  advanced 
from  time  to  time,  just  because  I  do  not  know;  and  when  I  have 
enquired,  I  will  say  whether  I  agree  with  you  or  not.  Please 
then  to  allow  me  time  to  reflect. 

Reflect,  he  said. 

I  am  reflecting,  I  replied,  and  discover  that  temperance,  or 
wisdom,  if  implying  a  knowledge  of  anything,  must  be  a  science, 
and  a  science  of  something. 

Yes,  he  said  ;  the  science  of  itself. 

Is  not  medicine,  I  said,  the  science  of  health  ? 


And  suppose,  I  said,  that  I  were  asked  by  you  what  is  the 
use  or  effect  of  medicine,  which  is  this  science  of  health,  I  should 
answer  that  medicine  is  of  very  great  use  in  producing  health, 
which,  as  you  will  admit,  is  an  excellent  effect. 


2  Reading,  according  to  Hcusdc's  conjecture,  o/ioAoyr/rroj/To's-  rroi. 


And  if  you  were  to  ask  me,  what  is  the  result  or  effect  of 
architecture,  which  is  the  science  of  building,  I  should  say, 
houses,  and  so  of  other  arts,  which  all  have  their  different  results. 
Now  I  want  you,  Critias,  to  answer  a  similar  question  about 
temperance,  or  wisdom,  which,  according  to  you,  is  the  science 
of  itself.  Admitting  this  view,  I  ask  of  you,  what  good  work, 
worthy  of  the  name  wise,  does  temperance  or  wisdom,  which 
is  the  science  of  itself,  effect  ?  Answer  me. 

That  is  not  the  true  way  of  pursuing  the  enquiry,  Socrates,  he 
said  ;  for  wisdom  is  not  like  the  other  sciences,  any  more  than 
they  are  like  one  another  :  but  you  proceed  as  if  they  were  alike. 
For  tell  me,  he  said,  what  result  is  there  of  computation  or 
geometry,  in  the  same  sense  as  a  house  is  the  result  of  building, 
or  a  garment  of  weaving,  or  any  other  work  of  any  other  art  ? 
Can  you  show  me  any  such  result  of  them  ?  You  cannot.  166 

That  is  true,  I  said  ;  but  still  each  of  these  sciences  has  a 
subject  which  is  different  from  the  science.  I  can  show  you  that 
the  art  of  computation  has  to  do  with  odd  and  even  numbers 
in  their  numerical  relations  to  themselves  and  to  each  other. 
Is  not  that  true  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  the  odd  and  even  numbers  are  not  the  same  with  the  art 
of  computation  ? 

They  are  not. 

The  art  of  weighing,  again,  has  to  do  with  lighter  and  heavier ; 
but  the  art  of  weighing  is  one  thing,  and  the  heavy  and  the  light 
another.  Do  you  admit  that  ? 


Now,  I  want  to  know,  what  is  that  which  is  not  wisdom,  and 
of  which  wisdom  is  the  science  ? 

That  is  precisely  the  old  error,  Socrates,  he  said.  You  come 
asking  in  what  wisdom  or  temperance  differs  from  the  other 
sciences,  and  then  you  try  to  discover  some  respect  in  which  they 
are  alike ;  but  they  are  not,  for  all  the  other  sciences  are  of 
something  else,  and  not  of  themselves  ;  wisdom  alone  is  a  science 
of  other  sciences,  and  of  itself.  And  of  this,  as  I  believe,  you 
are  very  well  aware  ;  and  that  you  are  only  doing  what  you 
denied  that  you  were  doing  just  now,  trying  to  refute  me,  in 
stead  of  pursuing  the  argument. 


And  what  if  I  am  ?  How  can  you  think  that  I  have  any 
other  motive  in  refuting  you  but  what  I  should  have  in  exa 
mining  into  myself?  which  motive  would  be  just  a  fear  of  my 
unconsciously  fancying  that  I  knew  something  of  which  I  was  ' 
ignorant.  And  at  this  moment  I  pursue  the  argument  chiefly 
for  my  own  sake,  and  perhaps  in  some  degree  also  for  the  sake 
of  my  other  friends.  For  is  not  the  discovery  of  things  as  they 
truly  are  a  good  common  to  all  mankind  ? 

Yes,  certainly,  Socrates,  he  said. 

Then,  I  said,  be  cheerful,  sweet  sir,  and  give  your  opinion 
in  answer  to  the  question  which  I  asked,  never  minding  whether 
Critias  or  Socrates  is  the  person  refuted  ;  attend  only  to  the 
argument,  and  see  what  will  come  of  the  refutation. 

I  think  that  you  are  right,  he  replied  ;  and  I  will  do  as  you 

Tell  me,  then,  I  said,  what  you  mean  to  affirm  about 

I  mean,  he  said,  that  wisdom  is  the  only  science  which  is  the 
science  of  itself  and  of  the  other  sciences  as  well. 

But  the  science  of  science,  I  said,  will  also  be  the  science  of  1 
the  absence  of  science. 

Very  true,  he  said. 

167  Then  the  wise  or  temperate  man,  and  he  only,  will  know  him 
self,  and  be  able  to  examine  what  he  knows  or  does  not  know, 
and  see  what  others  know,  and  think  that  they  know  and  do 
really  know ;  and  what  they  do  not  know,  and  fancy  that  they 
know,  when  they  do  not.  No  other  person  will  be  able  to  do 
this.  And  this  is  the  state  and  virtue  of  wisdom,  or  temperance, 
and  self-knowledge,  which  is  just  knowing  what  a  man  knows, 
and  what  he  does  not  know.  That  is  your  view? 

Yes,  he  said. 

Now  then,  I  said,  making  an  offering  of  the  third  or  last 
argument  to  Zeus  the  Saviour,  let  us  once  more  begin,  and  ask, 
in  the  first  place,  whether  this  knowledge  that  you  know  and 
do  not  know  what  you  know  and  do  not  know  is  possible ;  and 
in  the  second  place,  whether,  if  perfectly  possible,  such  know 
ledge  is  of  any  use. 

That  is  what  we  must  consider,  he  said. 

And  here,  Critias,  I  said,  I  hope  that  you  will  find  a  way  out 


of  a  difficulty  into  which  I  have  got  myself.     Shall  I  tell  you  the 
difficulty  ? 

By  all  means,  he  replied. 

Docs  not  what  you  have  been  saying,  if  true,  amount  to  this : 
that  there  must  be  a  science  which  is  wholly  a  science  of  itself, 
and  also  of  other  sciences,  and  that  the  same  is  also  the  science 
of  the  absence  of  science  ? 


But  consider  how  monstrous  this  is,  my  friend  :  in  any  parallel 
case,  the  impossibility  will  be  transparent  to  you. 

How  is  that  ?  and  in  what  cases  do  you  mean  ? 

In  such  cases  as  this :  Suppose  that  there  is  a  kind  of  vision 
which  is  not  like  ordinary  vision,  but  a  vision  of  itself  and  of 
other  sorts  of  vision,  and  of  the  defect  of  them,  which  in  seeing 
sees  no  colour,  but  only  itself  and  other  sorts  of  vision  :  Do  you 
think  that  there  is  such  a  kind  of  vision  ? 

Certainly  not. 

Or  is  there  a  kind  of  hearing  which  hears  no  sound  at  all,  but 
only  itself  and  other  sorts  of  hearing,  or  the  defects  of  them  ? 

There  is  not. 

Or  take  all  the  senses  :  can  you  imagine  that  there  is  any 
sense  of  itself  and  of  other  senses,  but  which  is  incapable  of 
perceiving  the  objects  of  the  senses  ? 

I  think  not. 

Could  there  be  any  desire  which  is  not  the  desire  of  any 
pleasure,  but  of  itself,  and  of  all  other  desires  ? 

Certainly  not. 

Or  can  you  imagine  a  wish  which  wishes  for  no  good,  but  only 
for  itself  and  all  other  wishes  ? 

I  should  answer,  No. 

Or  would  you  say  that  there  is  a  love  which  is  not  the  love 
of  beauty,  but  of  itself  and  of  other  loves  ? 

I  should  not. 

Or  did  you  ever  know  of  a  fear  which  fears  itself  or  other  168 
fears,  but  has  no  object  of  fear? 

I  never  did,  he  said. 

Or  of  an  opinion  which  is  an  opinion  of  itself  and  of  other 
opinions,  and  which  has  no  opinion  on  the  subjects  of  opinion 
in  general  ? 


Certainly  not. 

But  surely  we  are  assuming  a  science  of  this  kind,  which, 
having  no  subject-matter,  is  a  science  of  itself  and  of  the  other 
sciences  ;  for  that  is  what  is  affirmed.  Now  this  is  strange,  if 
true:  however,  we  must  not  as  yet  absolutely  deny  the  pos 
sibility  of  such  a  science  ;  let  us  rather  consider  the  matter. 

You  are  quite  right. 

Well  then,  this  science  of  which  we  arc  speaking  is  a  science 
of  something,  and  is  of  a  nature  to  be  a  science  of  something  ? 


Just  as  that  which  is  greater  is  of  a  nature  to  be  greater  than 


Which  is  less,  if  the  other  is  to  be  conceived  as  greater  ? 

To  be  sure. 

And  if  we  could  find  something  which  is  at  once  greater  than 
itself,  and  greater  than  other  great  things,  but  not  greater  than 
those  things  in  comparison  of  which  the  others  are  greater, 
then  that  thing  would  have  the  property  of  being  greater  and 
also  less  than  itself? 

That,  Socrates,  he  said,  is  the  inevitable  inference. 

Or  if  there  be  a  double  which  is  double  of  other  doubles  and  of 
itself,  these  will  be  halves  ;  for  the  double  is  relative  to  the  half? 

That  is  true. 

And  that  which  is  greater  than  itself  will  also  be  less,  and 
that  which  is  heavier  will  also  be  lighter,  and  that  which  is  older 
will  also  be  younger  :  and  the  same  of  other  things  ;  that  which 
has  a  nature  relative  to  self  will  retain  also  the  nature  of  its 
object  :  I  mean  to  say,  for  example,  that  hearing  is,  as  we  say, 
of  sound  or  voice.  Is  that  true  ? 

Then  if  hearing  hears  itself,  it  must  hear  a  voice  ;  for  there 
is  no  other  way  of  hearing. 

3  Socrates  is  intending  to  show  that  science  differs  from  the  object  of  science, 
as  any  other  relative  differs  from  the  object  of  relation.  But  where  there  is 
comparison— greater,  less,  heavier,  lighter,  and  the  like— a  relation  to  self  as 
well  as  to  other  things  involves  an  absolute  contradiction  ;  and  in  other  cases, 
as  in  the  case  of  the  senses,  is  hardly  conceivable.  The  use  of  the  genitive 
after  the  comparative  in  Greek,  n^ov  TWOS,  creates  an  unavoidable  obscurity 
in  the  translation. 



And  sight  also,  my  excellent  friend,  if  it  sees  itself  must  see 
a  colour,  for  sight  cannot  see  that  which  has  no  colour. 


Then  do  you  see,  Critias,  that  in  several  of  the  examples 
which  have  been  recited  the  notion  of  a  relation  to  self  is 
altogether  inadmissible,  and  in  other  cases  hardly  credible — 
inadmissible,  for  example,  in  the  case  of  magnitudes,  numbers, 
and  the  like. 

Very  true. 

But  in  the  case  of  hearing  and  sight,  or  in  the  power  of  self- 
motion,  and  the  power  of  heat  to  burn,  this  relation  to  self  will 
be  regarded  as  incredible  by  some,  but  perhaps  not  by  others.  169 
And  some  great  man,  my  friend,  is  wanted,  who  will  satis 
factorily  determine  for  us,  whether  there  is  nothing  which  has 
an  inherent  property  of  relation  to  self,  or  some  things  only  and 
not  others  ;  and  whether  in  this  latter  class,  if  there  be  such  a 
class,  that  science  which  is  called  wisdom  or  temperance  is 
included.  I  altogether  distrust  my  own  power  of  determining 
this  :  I  am  not  certain  whether  there  is  such  a  science  of  science 
at  all  ;  and  even  if  there  be,  I  should  not  acknowledge  this  to 
be  wisdom  or  temperance,  until  I  can  also  see  whether  such  a 
knowledge  would  or  would  not  do  us  any  good  ;  for  I  have  an 
impression  that  temperance  is  a  benefit  and  a  good.  And 
therefore,  O  son  of  Callaeschrus,  as  you  maintain  that  tem 
perance  or  wisdom  is  a  science  of  science,  and  also  of  the 
absence  of  science,  I  will  request  you  to  show  in  the  first  place, 
as  I  was  saying  before,  the  possibility,  and  in  the  second  place, 
the  advantage,  of  such  a  science ;  and  then  perhaps  you  may 
satisfy  me  that  you  are  right  in  your  view  of  temperance. 

Critias  heard  me  say  this,  and  saw  that  I  was  in  a  difficulty ; 
and  as  one  person  when  another  yawns  in  his  presence  catches 
the  infection  of  yawning  from  him,  so  did  he  seem  to  be  driven 
into  a  difficulty  by  my  difficulty.  But  as  he  had  a  reputation 
to  maintain,  he  was  ashamed  to  admit  before  the  company  that 
he  could  not  answer  my  challenge  or  determine  the  question 
at  issue ;  and  he  made  an  unintelligible  attempt  to  hide  his 
perplexity.  In  order  that  the  argument  might  proceed,  I  said 
to  him,  Well  then,  Critias,  if  you  like,  let  us  assume  that  there 


is  this  science  of  science  ;  whether  the  assumption  is  right  or 
wrong  may  hereafter  be  investigated.  But  fully  admitting  this, 
will  you  tell  me  how  such  a  science  enables  us  to  distinguish 
what  we  know  or  do  not  know,  which,  as  we  were  saying,  is 
self-knowledge  or  wisdom  :  that  is  what  we  were  saying  ? 

Yes,  Socrates,  he  said  ;  and  that  I  think  is  certainly  true  : 
for  he  who  has  this  science  or  knowledge  which  knows  itself 
will  become  like  the  knowledge  which  he  has,  in  the  same  way 
that  he  who  has  swiftness  will  be  swift,  and  he  who  has  beauty 
will  be  beautiful,  and  he  who  has  knowledge  will  know.  In 
the  same  way  he  who  has  that  knowledge  which  is  self-know 
ing,  will  know  himself. 

I  do  not  doubt,  I  said,  that  a  man  will  know  himself,  when 
he  possesses  that  which  has  self-knowledge  :  but  what  necessity  is 
there  that,  having  this,  he  should  know  what  he  knows  and  what 
he  does  not  know  ? 
170      Because,  Socrates,  they  are  the  same. 

Very  likely,  I  said  ;  but  I  remain  as  stupid  as  ever ;  for  still 
I  fail  to  comprehend  how  this  knowing  what  you  know  and  do 
not  know  is  the  same  as  the  knowledge  of  self. 

What  do  you  mean  ?  he  said. 

This  is  what  I  mean,  I  replied  :  I  will  admit  that  there  is  a 
science  of  science ; — can  this  do  more  than  determine  that  of 
two  things  one  is  and  the  other  is  not  science  or  knowledge  ? 

No,  just  that. 

But  is  knowledge  or  want  of  knowledge  of  health  the  same 
as  knowledge  or  want  of  knowledge  of  justice  ? 

Certainly  not. 

The  one  is  medicine,  and  the  other  is  politics  ;  whereas  that 
of  which  we  are  speaking  is  knowledge  pure  and  simple. 

Very  true. 

And  if  a  man  knows  only,  and  has  only  knowledge  of  know 
ledge,  and  has  no  further  knowledge  of  health  and  justice,  the 
probability  is  that  he  will  only  know  that  he  knows  some 
thing,  and  has  a  certain  knowledge,  whether  concerning  himself 
or  other  men. 


Then  how  will  this  knowledge  or  science  teach  him  to  know 
what  he  knows  ?  Say  that  he  knows  health  ; — not  wisdom  or 


temperance,  but  the  art  of  medicine  has  taught  him  that ; — and 
he  has  learned  harmony  from  the  art  of  music,  and  building  from 
the  art  of  building, — neither,  from  wisdom  or  temperance  :  and 
the  same  of  other  things. 

That  is  evident. 

How  will  wisdom,  regarded  only  as  a  knowledge  of  know 
ledge  or  science  of  science,  ever  teach  him  that  he  knows  health, 
or  that  he  knows  building  ? 

That  is  impossible. 

Then  he  who  is  ignorant  of  this  will  only  know  that  he  knows, 
but  not  what  he  knows  ? 


-  Then  wisdom  or  being  wise  appears  to  be  not  the  know 
ledge  of  the  things  which  we  do  or  do  not  know,  but  only  the 
knowledge  that  we  know  or  do  not  know  ? 

That  is  the  inference. 

Then  he  who  has  this  knowledge  will  not  be  able  to  examine 
whether  a  pretender  knows  or  does  not  know  that  which  he  says 
that  he  knows  :  he  will  only  know  that  he  has  a  knowledge  of 
some  kind  ;  but  wisdom  will  not  show  him  of  what  the  know 
ledge  is  ? 

Plainly  not. 

Neither  will  he  be  able  to  distinguish  the  pretender  in  medi 
cine  from  the  true  physician,  nor  between  any  other  true  and 
false  professor  of  knowledge.     Let  us  consider  the  matter  in  this 
way :  If  the  wise  man  or  any  other  man  wants  to  distinguish  the 
true  physician  from  the  false,  what  is  he  to  do  ?    He  will  not  talk  ^ 
to  him  about  medicine  ;  and  that,  as  we  were  saying,  is  the  only  ' 
thing  which  the  physician  understands. 


And,  on  the  other  hand,  the  physician  knows  nothing  of 
science,  for  this  has  been  assumed  to  be  the  province  of 


And  further,  since  medicine  is  science,  we  must  infer  that  he  171 
does  not  know  anything  of  medicine. 


Then  the  wise  man  may  indeed  know  that  the  physician  has 
some  kind  of  science  or  knowledge  ;  but  when  he  wants  to 


discover  the  nature  of  this  he  will  ask,  What  is  the  subject- 
matter?  For  each  science  is  distinguished,  not  as  science,  but 
by  the  nature  of  the  subject.  Is  not  that  true  ? 

Yes  ;  that  is  quite  true. 

And  medicine  is  distinguished  from  other  sciences  as  having 
the  subject-matter  of  health  and  disease  ? 


And  he  who  would  enquire  into  the  nature  of  medicine  must 
pursue  the  enquiry  into  health  and  disease,  and  not  into  what  is 
extraneous  ? 


And  he  who  judges  rightly  will  judge  of  the  physician  as  a 
physician  in  what  relates  to  these  ? 

He  will. 

He  will  consider  whether  what  he  says  is  true,  and  whether 
what  he  does  is  right  in  relation  to  these  ? 

He  will. 

But  can  any  one  appreciate  either  without  having  a  know 
ledge  of  medicine  ? 

He  cannot. 

Nor  any  one  but  the  physician,  not  even  the  wise  man,  as 
appears  ;  for  that  would  require  him  to  be  a  physician  as  well 
as  a  wise  man  ? 

Very  true. 

Then,  assuredly,  wisdbm  or  temperance,  if  only  a  science  of 
science,  and  of  the  absence  of  science  or  knowledge,  will  not  be 
able  to  distinguish  the  physician  who  knows, from  one  who  does 
not  know  but  pretends  or  thinks  that  he  knows,  or  any  other 
professor  of  anything  at  all  ;  like  any  other  artist,  he  will  only 
know  his  fellow  in  art  or  wisdom,  and  no  one  else. 

That  is  evident,  he  said. 

But  then  what  profit,  Critias,  I  said,  is  there  any  longer  in 
wisdom  or  temperance  which  yet  remains,  if  this  is  wisdom  ? 
If,  indeed,  as  we  were  supposing  at  first,  the  wise  man  had 
been  able  to  distinguish  what  he  knew  and  did  not  know,  and 
that  he  knew  the  one  and  did  not  know  the  other,  and  to  recog 
nize  a  similar  faculty  of  discernment  in  others,  there  would 
certainly  have  been  a  great  advantage  in  being  wise ;  for  then 
we  should  never  have  made  a  mistake,  but  have  passed  through 


life  the  unerring  guides  of  ourselves  and  of  those  who  were 
under  us  ;  and  we  should  not  have  attempted  to  do  what  we 
did  not  know,  but  we  should  have  found  out  those  who  knew, 
and  confided  in  them  ;  nor  should  we  have  allowed  those  who 
were  under  us  to  do  anything  which  they  were  not  likely  to  do 
well ;  and  they  would  be  likely  to  do  well  just  that  of  which 
they  had  knowledge  ;  and  the  house  or  state  which  was  ordered 
or  administered  under  the  guidance  of  wisdom,  and  everything 
else  of  which  wisdom  was  the  lord,  would  have  been  well 
ordered  ;  for  truth  guiding,  and  error  having  been  expelled,  in 
all  their  doings,  men  would  have  done  well,  and  would  have  172 
been  happy.  Was  not  this,  Critias,  what  we  spoke  of  as  the 
great  advantage  of  wisdom — to  know  what  is  known  and  what 
is  unknown  to  us  ? 

Very  true,  he  said. 

And  now  you  perceive,  I  said,  that  no  such  science  is  to  be 
found  anywhere. 

I  perceive,  he  said. 

May  we  assume  then,  I  said,  that  wisdom,  viewed  in  this  new 
light  merely  as  a  knowledge  of  knowledge  and  ignorance,  has 
this  advantage : — that  he  who  possesses  such  knowledge  will 
more  easily  learn  anything  which  he  learns  ;  and  that  every- 
'.  thing  will  be  clearer  to  him,  because,  in  addition  to  the  know 
ledge  of  individuals,  he  sees  the  science,  and  this  also  will  better 
enable  him  to  test  the  knowledge  which  others  have  of  what  he 
knows  himself;  whereas  the  enquirer  who  is  without  this  know 
ledge  may  be  supposed  to  have  a  feebler  and  weaker  insight  ? 
Are  not  these,  my  friend,  the  real  advantages  which  are  to  be 
gained  from  wisdom  ?  And  are  not  we  looking  and  seeking 
after  something  more  than  is  to  be  found  in  her? 
•  That  is  very  likely,  he  said. 

-  That  is  very  likely,  I  said ;  but  very  likely,  too,  we  have 
been  enquiring  to  no  purpose ;  as  I  am  led  to  infer,  because  I 
observe  that  if  this  is  wisdom,  some  strange  consequences 
would  follow.  Let  us,  if  you  please,  assume  the  possibility  of 
this  science  of  sciences,  and  further  admit  and  allow,  as  was 
originally  suggested,  that  wisdom  is  the  knowledge  of  what 
we  know  and  do  not  know.  Assuming  all  this,  still,  upon 
further  consideration,  I  am  doubtful,  Critias,  whether  wisdom, 


such  as  this,  would  do  us  any  good.  For  we  were  wrong,  I 
think,  in  supposing,  as  we  were  saying  just  now,  that  such 
wisdom  ordering  the  government  of  house  or  state  would  be  a 
great  benefit. 

How  is  that  ?  he  said. 

Why,  I  said  we  were  far  too  ready  to  admit  the  great  benefits 
which  mankind  would  obtain  from  their  severally  doing  the 
things  which  they  knew,  and  committing  to  others  who  knew 
the  things  of  which  they  are  ignorant. 

Were  we  not  right  in  making  that  admission  ? 
I  think  not. 

That  is  certainly  strange,  Socrates. 

By  the  dog  of  Egypt,  I  said,  there  I  agree  with  you  ;  and 
I  was  thinking  as  much  just  now  when  I  said  that  strange 
consequences  would  follow,  and  that  I  was  afraid  we  were  on 
the  wrong  track  ;  for  however  ready  we  may  be  to  admit 
X73  that  this  is  wisdom,  I  certainly  cannot  make  out  what  good 
this  sort  of  thing  does  to  us. 

What  do  you  mean  ?  he  said  ;  I  wish  that  you  could  make 
me  understand  what  you  mean. 

I  dare  say  that  wrhat   I   am   saying  is   nonsense,  I   replied  ; 
and  yet  if  a  man  has  any  feeling  of  what  is  due  to  himself,  he 
cannot  let  the  thought  which  comes  into  his  mind  pass  away 
unheeded  and  unexamined. 
I  like  that,  he  said. 

Hear,  then,  I  said,  my  own  dream  ;  whether  coming  through 
the  horn  or  the  ivory  gate,  I  cannot  tell.  The  dream  is  this  : 
Let  us  suppose  that  wisdom  is  such  as  we  are  now  defining, 
and  that  she  has  absolute  sway  over  us  ;  then  each  action  will 
be  done  according  to  the  arts  or  sciences,  and  no  one  profess 
ing  to  be  a  pilot  when  he  is  not,  or  any  physician  or  general, 
or  any  one  else  pretending  to  know  matters  of  which  he  is 
ignorant,  will  deceive  or  elude  us  ;  our  health  will  be  improved; 
our  safety  at  sea,  and  also  in  battle,  will  be  assured  ;  our  coats 
and  shoes,  and  all  other  instruments  and  implements  will  be 
well  made,  because  the  workmen  will  be  good  and  true.  Aye, 
and  if  you  please,  you  may  suppose  that  prophecy,  which  is  the 
knowledge  of  the  future,  will  be  under  the  control  of  wisdom, 
and  that  she  will  deter  deceivers  and  set  up  the  true  prophet 
VOL.  I.  D 


in  their  place  as  the  revealer  of  the  future.  Now  I  quite  agree 
that  mankind,  thus  provided,  would  live  and  act  according  to 
knowledge,  for  wisdom  would  watch  and  prevent  ignorance 
from  intruding  on  us.  But  we  have  not  as  yet  discovered  why, 
because  we  act  according  to  knowledge,  we  act  well  and  are 
happy,  my  dear  Critias. 

Yet  I  think,  he  replied,  that  if  you  discard  knowledge,  you 
will  hardly  find  the  crown  of  happiness  in  anything  else. 

But  of  what  is  this  knowledge  ?  I  said.    Just  answer  me  that 
small  question.     Do  you  mean  a  knowledge  of  shoemaking  ? 
God  forbid. 

Or  of  working  in  brass  ? 
Certainly  not. 

Or  in  wool,  or  wood,  or  anything  of  that  sort  ? 
No,  I  do  not. 

Then,  I  said,  we  are  giving  up  the  doctrine  that  he  who  lives 
according   to  knowledge  is  happy,  for  these  live  according  to 
knowledge,  and  yet  they  are  not  allowed  by  you  to  be  happy; 
but  I  think  that  you  mean  to  confine  happiness  to  particular 
individuals  who  live  according  to  knowledge,  such  for  example 
as  the  prophet,  who,  as  I  was  saying,  knows  the  future. 
Yes,  I  mean  him,  but  there  are  others  as  well. 
Yes,  I  said,  some  one  who  knows  the  past  and  present  as  well 
as  the  future,  and  is  ignorant  of  nothing.     Let  us  suppose  that 
there  is  such  a  person,  and  if  there  is,  you  will  allow  that  he  is 
the  most  knowing  of  all  living  men. 
Certainly  he  is. 

Yet  I   should   like  to  know  one   thing   more :  which  of  the 
different  kinds  of  knowledge    makes    him    happy  ?    or  do  all 
equally  make  him  happy  ? 
Not  all  equally,  he  replied. 

But  which  most  tends  to  make  him  happy  ?  the  knowledge 
of  what  past,  present,  or  future  thing?    May  I  infer  this  to  be 
the  knowledge  of  the  game  of  draughts  ? 
Nonsense  about  the  game  of  draughts. 
Or  of  computation  ? 

Or  of  health  ? 
That  is  nearer  the  truth,  he  said. 


And  that  knowledge  which  is  nearest  of  all,  I  said,  is  the 
knowledge  of  what  ? 

The  knowledge  with  which  he  discerns  good  and  evil. 

Monster !  I  said ;  you  have  been  carrying  me  round  in  a 
circle,  and  all  this  time  hiding  from  me  the  fact  that  the  life 
according  to  knowledge  is  not  that  which  makes  men  act  rightly 
and  be  happy,  nor  all  the  sciences  put  together,  but  one  science 
only,  that  of  good  and  evil.  For,  let  me  ask  you,  Critias, 
whether,  if  you  take  away  this,  medicine  will  not  equally  give 
health,  and  shoemaking  equally  produce  shoes,  and  the  art  of 
the  weaver  clothes  ? — whether  the  art  of  the  pilot  \vill  not 
equally  save  our  lives  at  sea,  and  the  art  of  the  general 
in  war  ? 

Quite  so. 

And  yet,  my  dear  Critias,  none  of  these  things  will  be  well 
or  beneficially  done,  if  the  science  of  the  good  be  wanting. 

That  is  true. 

But  that  science  is  not  wisdom  or  temperance,  but  a  science 
of  human  advantage ;  not  a  science  of  other  sciences,  or  of 
ignorance,  but  of  good  and  evil :  and  if  this  be  of  use,  then 
wisdom  or  temperance  will  not  be  of  use. 

And  why,  he  replied,  will  not  wisdom  be  of  use  ?  For  if  we 
really  assume  that  wisdom  is  a  science  of  sciences,  and  has  a 
sway  over  other  sciences,  surely  she  will  have  this  particular 
science  of  the  good  under  her  control,  and  in  this  way  will 
benefit  us. 

And  will  wisdom  give  health  ?  I  said  ;  is  not  this  rather  the 
effect  of  medicine  ?  Or  does  wisdom  do  the  work  of  any  of 
the  other  arts, — do  they  not  each  of  them  do  their  own  work  ? 
Have  we  not  long  ago  asseverated  that  wisdom  is  only  the  know 
ledge  of  knowledge  and  of  ignorance,  and  of  nothing  else  ? 

That  is  clear. 

Another  art  is  the  producer  of  health. 


The  art  of  health  is  different. 

Yes,  different. 

175      Nor  does  wisdom  give  advantage,  my  good  friend  ;    for  that 
again  we  have  just  now  been  attributing  to  another  art. 

Very  true. 

D  2 


How   then   can   wisdom   be  advantageous,  giving  no  advan 
tage  ? 

That,  Socrates,  is  certainly  inconceivable. 

You   see   then,  Critias,  that  I  was  not  far  wrong  in   fearing 
that  I  could  have  no  sound  notion  about  wisdom  ;    I  was  quite 
right  in  depreciating  myself ;    for  that  which  is  admitted  to  be 
the  best  of  all  things  would  never  have  seemed  to  us  useless,  if 
I  had  been  good   for  anything  at  an  enquiry.     But  now  I  have 
been  utterly  defeated,  and  have  failed  to  discover  what  that  is 
to  which  the  imposer  of  names  gave  this  name  of  temperance 
or  wisdom.     And  yet  many  more  admissions  were  made  by  us 
than  could  be  really  granted  ;  for  we  admitted  that  there  was  a 
science  of  science,  although  the  argument  said  No,  and  protested 
against  us ;  and  we  admitted  further,  that  this  science  knew  the 
works  of  the  other  sciences  (although  this  too  was  denied  by  the 
argument),  because  we  wanted  to  show  that  the  wise  man  had 
knowledge  of  what  he  knew  and  did  not  know ;   also  we  nobly 
disregarded,  and  never  even  considered,  the  impossibility  of  a 
man  knowing  in  a  sort  of  way  that  which  he  does  not  know  at 
all ;    for  our  assumption  was,  that  he  knows  that  which  he  does 
not  know;  than  which  nothing,  as  I  think,  can  be  more  irrational. 
And  yet,  after  finding  us  so  easy  and  good-natured,  the  enquiry 
is  still  unable  to  discover  the  truth  ;    but  mocks  us  to  a  degree, 
and  has  gone  out  of  its  way  to  prove  the  inutility  of  that  which 
we  admitted  only  by  a  sort  of  supposition  and  fiction  to  be  the 
true  definition  of  temperance  or  wisdom  :  which  result,  as  far  as 
I  am  concerned,  is  not  so  much  to  be  lamented,  I  said.     But  for 
your  sake,  Charmides,  I  am  very  sorry— that  you,  having  such 
beauty  and  such  wisdom  and  temperance  of  soul,  should  have 
no  profit   or  good    in  life  from  your  wisdom  and  temperance. 
And  still  more  am  I  grieved  about  the  charm  which  I  learned 
with  so  much  pain,  and  to  so  little  profit,  from  the  Thracian,  for 
the   sake   of  a  thing  which  is  nothing  worth.     I  think  indeed 
that  there  is  a  mistake,  and  that  I  must  be  a  bad  enquirer,  for 
I  am   persuaded  that  wisdom  or  temperance  is  really  a   great 
good ;    and   happy  are  you   if  you   possess   that    good.      And 
therefore  examine  yourself,  and  see  whether  you  have  this  gift 
and  can  do  without  the  charm  ;   for  if  you  can,  I  would  rather 
advise  you  to  regard  me  simply  as  a  fool  who  is  never  able  to 


reason  out  anything ;  and  to  rest  assured  that  the  more  wise 
and  temperate  you  are,  the  happier  you  will  be. 

Charmides  said  :  I  am  sure  that  I  do  not  know,  Socrates, 
whether  I  have  or  have  not  this  gift  of  wisdom  and  temperance  ; 
for  how  can  I  know  whether  I  have  that,  the  very  nature  of 
which  even  you  and  Critias,  as  you  say,  arc  unable  to  discover  ? 
—(not  that  I  believe  you.)  And  further,  I  am  sure,  Socrates, 
that  I  do  need  the  charm,  and  as  far  as  I  am  concerned,  I  shall 
be  willing  to  be  charmed  by  you  daily,  until  you  say  that  I 
have  had  enough. 

Very  good,  Charmides,  said  Critias  ;  if  you  do  this  I  shall 
have  a  proof  of  your  temperance,  that  is,  if  you  allow  yourself 
to  be  charmed  by  Socrates,  and  never  desert  him  at  all. 

You  may  depend  on  my  following  and  not  deserting  him, 
said  Charmides :  if  you  who  are  my  guardian  command  me, 
I  should  be  very  wrong  not  to  obey  you. 

And  I  do  command  you,  he  said. 

Then  I  will  do  as  you  say,  and  begin  this  very  day. 

You  sirs,  I  said,  what  are  you  conspiring  about  ? 

We  are  not  conspiring,  said  Charmides,  we  have  conspired 

And  arc  you  about  to  use  violence,  without  even  going  through 
the  forms  of  justice? 

Yes,  I  shall  use  violence,  he  replied,  since  he  orders  me  ;  and 
therefore  you  had  better  consider  well. 

But  the  time  for  consideration  has  passed,  I  said,  when 
violence  is  employed  ;  and  you,  when  you  are  determined  on 
anything,  and  in  the  mood  of  violence,  are  irresistible. 

Do  not  you  resist  me  then,  he  said. 

I  will  not  resist  you,  I  replied. 



No  answer  is  given  in  the  Lysis  to  the  question,  *  What  is  Friend 
ship  ? '  any  more  than  in  the  Charmides  to  the  question,  '  What  is 
Temperance  ? '  There  are  several  resemblances  in  the  two  Dialogues : 
the  same  youthfulness  and  sense  of  beauty  pervades  both  of  them  ;  they 
are  alike  rich  in  the  description  of  Greek  life.  The  question  is  again 
raised  of  the  relation  of  knowledge  to  virtue  and  good,  which  also 
recurs  in  the  Laches;  and  Socrates  appears  again  as  the  elder  friend 
of  the  two  boys  Lysis  and  Menexenus.  In  the  Charmides,  as  also  in 
the  Laches,  he  is  described  as  middle-aged ;  in  the  Lysis  he  is  advanced 
in  years. 

The  Dialogue  consists  of  two  scenes  or  conversations  which  seem 
to  have  no  relation  to  each  other.  The  first  is  a  conversation  between 
Socrates  and  Lysis,  who,  like  Charmides,  is  an  Athenian  youth  of  noble 
descent  and  of  great  beauty,  goodness,  and  intelligence :  this  is  carried 
on  in  the  absence  of  Menexenus,  who  is  called  away  to  take  part  in  a 
sacrifice.  Socrates  asks  Lysis  whether  his  father  and  mother  do  not 
love  him  very  much  ?  '  Yes,  that  they  do.'  '  Then  of  course  they  allow 
him  to  do  exactly  as  he  likes.'  '  Of  course  not :  the  very  slaves  have 
more  liberty  than  he  has.'  <  But  how  is  this?7  '  The  reason  is  that  he 
is  not  old  enough/  '  No ;  the  real  reason  is  that  he  is  not  wise  enough : 
for  are  there  not  some  things  which  he  is  allowed  to  do,  although  he 
is  not  allowed  to  do  others?'  'Yes,  because  he  knows  them,  and  does 
not  know  the  others.'  This  leads  to  the  conclusion  that  all  men 
everywhere  will  trust  him  in  what  he  knows,  but  not  in  what  he  does 
not  know ;  for  in  such  matters  he  will  be  unprofitable  to  them,  and  do 
them  no  good.  And  no  one  will  love  him,  if  he  does  them  no  good ; 
and  he  can  only  do  them  good  by  knowledge ;  and  as  he  is  still  with 
out  knowledge,  he  can  have  as  yet  no  conceit  of  knowledge.  In  this 

42  L  YSIS. 

manner  Socrates  reads  a  lesson  to  Hippothales,  the  foolish  lover  of 
Lysis,  respecting  the  style  of  conversation  which  he  should  address  to 
his  beloved. 

After  the  return  of  Menexenus,  Socrates,  at  the  request  of  Lysis,  asks 
him  a  new  question :  '  What  is  friendship  ?  You,  Menexenus,  who  have 
a  friend  already,  can  tell  me,  who  am  always  longing  to  find  one,  what 
is  the  secret  of  this  great  blessing.' 

When  one  man  loves  another,  which  is  the  friend — he  who  loves,  or 
he  who  is  loved  ?  or  are  both  friends  ?  From  the  first  of  these  sup 
positions  they  are  driven  to  the  second;  and  from  the  second  to  the 
third ;  and  neither  the  two  boys  nor  Socrates  are  satisfied  with  any  of 
them,  Socrates  turns  to  the  poets,  who  affirm  that  God  brings  like  to 
like  (Homer),  and  to  philosophers  (Empedocles),  who  assert  also  that 
like  is  the  friend  of  like.  But  the  bad  are  not  friends,  for  they  are  not 
even  like  themselves,  and  still  less  are  they  like  one  another.  And  the 
good  have  no  need  of  one  another,  and  therefore  do  not  care  about 
one  another.  Moreover  there  are  others  who  say  that  likeness  is  a 
cause  of  aversion,  and  unlikeness  of  love  and  friendship ;  and  they  too 
adduce  the  authority  of  poets  and  philosophers  in  support  of  their 
doctrines ;  for  Hesiod  says  that  '  potter  is  jealous  of  potter,  bard  of 
bard ; '  and  subtle  doctors  tell  us  that  '  moist  is  the  friend  of  dry,  hot  of 
cold,'  and  the  like.  But  neither  can  their  doctrine  be  maintained;  for 
then  the  just  would  be  the  friend  of  the  unjust,  good  of  evil. 

Thus  we  arrive  at  the  conclusion  that  like  is  not  the  friend  of  like, 
nor  unlike  of  unlike ;  and  therefore  good  is  not  the  friend  of  good,  nor 
evil  of  evil,  nor  good  of  evil,  nor  evil  of  good.  What  remains  but  that 
the  indifferent,  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil,  should  be  the  friend  (not 
of  the  indifferent,  for  that  would  be  '  like  the  friend  of  like,'  but)  of  the 
good,  or  rather  of  the  beautiful  ? 

But  why  should  the  indifferent  have  this  attachment  to  the  beautiful 
or  good?  There  are  circumstances  under  which  such  an  attachment 
would  be  natural.  Suppose  the  indifferent,  say  the  human  body,  to  be 
desirous  of  getting  rid  of  some  evil,  such  as  disease,  which  is  not  es 
sential  but  only  accidental  to  it  (for  if  the  evil  were  essential  the  body 
would  cease  to  be  indifferent,  and  would  become  evil) — in  such  a  case 
the  indifferent  becomes  a  friend  of  the  good  for  the  sake  of  getting  rid 
of  the  evil.  In  this  intermediate  '  indifferent '  position  the  philosopher 
or  lover  of  wisdom  stands :  he  is  not  wise,  and  yet  not  unwise,  but  he 


has  ignorance  accidentally  clinging  to  him,  and  he  yearns  for  wisdom  as 
the  cure  of  the  evil.     (Cp.  Symp.  204.) 

After  this  explanation  has  been  received  with  triumphant  accord,  a 
fresh  dissatisfaction  begins  to  steal  over  the  mind  of  Socrates:  Must 
not  friendship  be  for  the  sake  of  some  ulterior  end  ?  and  what  can  that 
final  cause  or  end  of  friendship  be,  other  than  the  good  ?  But  the  good 
is  desired  by  us  only  as  the  cure  of  evil ;  and  therefore  if  there  were  no 
evil  there  would  be  no  friendship.  Some  other  explanation  then  has  to 
be  devised.  May  not  desire  be  the  source  of  friendship  ?  And  desire 
is  of  what  a  man  wants  and  of  what  is  congenial  to  him.  But  then 
again,  the  congenial  cannot  be  the  same  as  the  like;  for  like  cannot 
be  the  friend  of  like.  Nor  can  the  congenial  be  explained  as  the  good  ; 
for  good  is  not  the  friend  of  good,  as  has  been  also  shown.  The 
problem  is  unsolved,  and  the  three  friends,  Socrates,  Lysis,  and  Me- 
nexenus,  are  still  unable  to  find  out  what  a  friend  is. 

Thus,  as  in  the  Charmides  and  Laches,  and  several  of  the  other 
Dialogues  of  Plato  (compare  especially  the  Protagoras  and  Theaete- 
tus),  no  conclusion  is  arrived  at.  Socrates  maintains  his  character  of 
a  'know  nothing;'  the  boys  have  already  learned  the  lesson  which 
he  is  unable  to  teach  them,  and  they  are  free  from  the  conceit  of 
knowledge.  (Cp.  Charm.)  The  dialogue  is  what  would  be  called  in 
the  language  of  Thrasyllus  tentative  or  inquisitive.  The  subject  is 
continued  in  the  Phaedrus  and  Symposium,  and  treated,  with  a  mani 
fest  reference  to  the  Lysis,  in  the  eighth  and  ninth  books  of  the  Ni- 
comachean  Ethics  of  Aristotle.  As  in  other  writings  of  Plato  (for 
example,  the  Republic),  there  is  a  progress  from  unconscious  morality, 
illustrated  by  the  friendship  of  the  two  youths,  and  also  by  the  sayings 
of  the  poets  ('who  are  our  fathers  in  wisdom/  and  yet  only  tell  us 
half  the  truth,  and  in  this  particular  instance  are  not  much  improved 
upon  by  the  philosophers),  to  a  more  comprehensive  notion  of  friend 
ship.  This,  however,  is  far  from  being  cleared  of  its  perplexity.  Two 
notions  appear  to  be  struggling  or  balancing  in  the  mind  of  Socrates  :— 
First,  the  sense  that  friendship  arises  out  of  human  needs  and  wants ; 
Secondly,  that  the  higher  form  or  ideal  of  friendship  exists  only  for 
the  sake  of  the  good.  That  friends  are  not  necessarily  either  like  or 
unlike,  is  also  a  truth  confirmed  by  experience.  But  the  use  of  the 
terms  'like'  or  'good'  is  too  strictly  limited;  Socrates  has  allowed 
himself  to  be  carried  away  by  a  sort  of  eristic  or  illogical  logic  against 

44  L  YSIS. 

which  no  definition  of  friendship  would  be  able  to  stand.  In  the  course 
of  the  argument  (217  D,  E)  he  makes  a  distinction  between  property 
and  accident  which  is  a  real  contribution  to  the  science  of  logic.  Some 
higher  truths  appear  through  the  mist.  The  manner  in  which  the  field 
of  argument  is  widened,  as  in  the  Charmides  and  Laches  by  the  in 
troduction  of  the  idea  of  knowledge,  so  here  by  the  introduction  of 
the  good,  is  deserving  of  attention.  The  sense  of  the  interdependence 
of  good  and  evil,  and  the  allusion  to  the  possibility  of  the  non-existence 
of  evil,  are  also  very  remarkable. 

The  dialectical  interest  is  fully  sustained  by  the  dramatic  accompani 
ments.  Observe,  first,  the  scene,  which  is  a  Greek  Palaestra,  at  a  time 
when  a  sacrifice  is  going  on,  and  the  Hermaea  are  in  course  of  cele 
bration ;  secondly,  the  'accustomed  irony'  of  Socrates,  who  declares, 
as  in  the  Symposium  (177  D),  that  he  is  ignorant  of  all  other  things, 
but  claims  to  have  a  knowledge  of  the  mysteries  of  love.  There  are 
also  several  contrasts  of  character;  first  of  the  dry,  caustic  Ctesippus, 
of  whom  Socrates  professes  a  humorous  sort  of  fear,  and  Hippothales 
the  flighty  lover,  who  murders  sleep  by  bawling  out  the  name  of  his 
beloved ;  also  there  is  a  contrast  between  the  false,  exaggerated,  senti 
mental  love  of  Hippothales  towards  Lysis,  and  the  simple  and  innocent 
friendship  of  the  boys  with  one  another.  Some  difference  appears 
to  be  intended  between  the  characters  of  the  more  talkative  Me- 
nexenus  and  the  reserved  and  simple  Lysis.  Socrates  draws  out  the 
latter  by  a  new  sort  of  irony,  which  is  sometimes  adopted  in  talking 
to  children,  and  consists  in  asking  a  leading  question  which  can  only 
be  answered  in  a  sense  contrary  to  the  intention  of  the  question : 
'Your  father  and  mother  of  course  allow  you  to  drive  the  chariot?' 
'  No  they  do  not.'  When  Menexenus  returns,  the  serious  dialectic 
begins.  He  is  described  as  'very  pugnacious/  and  we  are  thus  pre 
pared  for  the  part  which  a  mere  youth  takes  in  a  difficult  argument. 
But  Plato  has  not  forgotten  dramatic  propriety,  and  Socrates  proposes 
at  last  to  refer  the  question  to  some  older  person  -(223  A). 



SOCRATES,  who  is  the  narrator.  MENEXENUS. 



SCENE  : — A  newly-erected  Palaestra  outside  the  walls  of  Athens. 

Steph.  T   WAS  going  from  the  Academy  straight  to  the  Lyceum,  in- 

203  \.    tending  to  take  the  outer  road,  which  is  close  under  the  wall. 
When  I  came  to  the  postern  gate  of  the  city,  which  is  by  the 
fountain  of  Panops,  I  fell  in  with  Hippothales,  the  son  of  Hie- 
ronymus,  and  Ctesippus  the  Paeanian,  and  a  company  of  young 
men  who  were  standing  with   them.      Hippothales,  seeing   me 
approach,  asked  whence  I  came  and  whither  I  was  going. 

I  am  going,  I  replied,  from  the  Academy  straight  to  the 

Then  come  straight  to  us,  he  said,  and  put  in  here  ;  you  may 
as  well. 

Who  are  you,  I  said  ;  and  where  am  I  to  come  ? 

He  showed  me  an  enclosed  space  and  an  open  door  over 
against  the  wall.  And  there,  he  said,  is  the  building  at  which 
we  all  meet :  and  a  goodly  company  we  are. 

And  what  is  this  building,  I  asked  ;  and  what  sort  of  enter 
tainment  have  you  ? 

204  The  building,  he   replied,  is  a  newly-erected   Palaestra  ;   and 
the  entertainment  is  generally  conversation,  to  which  you  are 

Thank  you,  I  said  ;  and  is  there  any  teacher  there  ? 
Yes,  he  said,  your  old  friend  and  admirer,  Miccus. 

46  L  YSIS. 

Indeed,  I  replied  ;  he  is  a  very  eminent  professor. 

Are  you  disposed,  he  said,  to  go  with  me  and  see  them  ? 

Yes,  I  said  ;  but  I  should  like  to  know  first,  what  is  expected 
of  me,  and  who  is  the  favourite  among  you  ? 

Some  persons  have  one  favourite,  Socrates,  an'd  some  another, 
he  said. 

And  who  is  yours  ?  I  asked  :  tell  me  that,  Hippothales. 

At  this  he  blushed  ;  and  I  said  to  him,  O  Hippothales,  thou 
son  of  Hieronymus!  do  not  say  that  you  are,  or  that  you  are 
not,  in  love ;  the  confession  is  too  late ;  for  I  see  not  only  that 
you  are  in  love,  but  that  you  are  already  far  gone  in  your  love. 
Simple  and  foolish  as  I  am,  the  Gods  have  given  me  the  power 
of  understanding  this  sort  of  affections. 

At  this  he  blushed  more  and  more. 

Ctesippus  said  :  I  like  to  see  you  blushing,  Hippothales,  and 
hesitating  to  tell  Socrates  the  name  ;  when,  if  he  were  with  you 
but  for  a  very  short  time,  he  would  be  plagued  to  death  by  hear 
ing  of  nothing  else.  Indeed,  Socrates,  he  has  literally  deafened 
us,  and  stopped  our  ears  with  the  praises  of  Lysis ;  and  if  he  is 
a  little  intoxicated,  there  is  every  likelihood  that  we  may  have 
our  sleep  murdered  with  a  cry  of  Lysis.  His  performances  in 
prose  are  bad  enough,  but  nothing  at  all  in  comparison  with  his 
verse ;  and  when  he  drenches  us  with  his  poems  and  other  com 
positions,  that  is  really  too  bad  ;  and  what  is  even  worse,  is  his 
manner  of  singing  them  to  his  love ;  this  he  does  in  a  voice 
which  is  truly  appalling,  and  we  cannot  help  hearing  him  :  and 
now  he  has  a  question  put  to  him  by  you,  and  lo !  he  is  blushing. 

Who  is  Lysis  ?  I  said  :  I  suppose  that  he  must  be  young ;  for 
the  name  does  not  recall  any  one  to  me. 

Why,  he  said,  his  father  being  'a  very  well-known  man,  he 
retains  his  patronymic,  and  is  not  as  yet  commonly  called  by 
his  own  name  ;  but,  although  you  do  not  know  his  name,  I  am 
sure  that  you  must  know  his  face,  for  that  is  quite  enough  to 
distinguish  him. 

But  tell  me  whose  son  he  is,  I  said. 

He  is  the  eldest  son  of  Democrates,  of  the  deme  of  Aexone. 

Ah,  Hippothales,  I  said  ;  what  a  noble  and  really  perfect  love 
you  have  found !  I  wish  that  you  would  favour  me  with  the 
exhibition  which  you  have  been  making  to  the  rest  of  the  com- 

LYSIS.  47 

205  pany,  and  then  I  shall  be  able  to  judge  whether  you  know  what 
a  lover  ought  to  say  about  his  love,  either  to  the  youth  himself, 
or  to  others. 

Nay,  Socrates,  he  said  ;  you  surely  do  not  attach  any  weight 
to  what  he  is  saying. 

Do  you  mean,  I  said,  that  you  disown  the  love  of  the  person 
whom  he  says  that  you  love  ? 

No ;  but  I  deny  that  I  make  verses  or  address  compositions 
to  him. 

He  is  not  in  his  right  mind,  said  Ctesippus  ;  he  is  talking 
nonsense,  and  is  stark  mad. 

\  O  Hippothales,  I  said,  if  you  have  ever  made  any  verses  or 
songs  in  honour  of  your  favourite,  I  do  not  want  to  hear  them  ; 
but  I  want  to  know  the  purport  of  them,  that  I  may  be  able  to 
judge  of  your  mode  of  approaching  your  fair  one. 
'V  Ctesippus  will  be  able  to  tell  you,  he  said  ;  for  if,  as  he  avers, 
I  talk  to  him  of  nothing  else,  he  must  have  a  very  accurate 
knowledge  and  recollection  of  that. 

Yes,  indeed,  said  Ctesippus  ;  I  know  only  too  well ;  and  very 
ridiculous  the  tale  is :  for  although  he  is  a  lover,  and  very 
devotedly  in  love,  he  has  nothing  particular  to  talk  about  to 
his  beloved  which  a  child  might  not  say.  Now  is  not  that 
ridiculous  ?  He  can  only  speak  of  the  wealth  of  Democrates, 
which  the  whole  city  celebrates,  and  grandfather  Lysis,  and  the 
other  ancestors  of  the  youth,  and  their  stud  of  horses,  and  their 
victory  at  the  Pythian  games,  and  at  the  Isthmus,  and  at 
Nemea  with  four  horses  and  single  horses  ;  and  these  he  sings 
and  says,  and  greater  twaddle  still.  For  the  day  before  yester 
day  he  made  a  poem  in  which  he  described  how  Heracles,  who 
was  a  connexion  of  the  family,  was  entertained  by  an  ancestor 
of  Lysis  as  his  relation  ;  this  ancestor  was  himself  the  son  of 
Zeus  and  the  daughter  of  the  founder  of  the  deme.  And  these 
are  the  sort  of  old  wives'  tales  which  he  sings  and  recites  to  us, 
and  we  are  obliged  to  listen  to  him. 

When  I  heard  this,  I  said  :  O  ridiculous  Hippothales  !  how 
can  you  be  making  and  singing  hymns  in  honour  of  yourself 
before  you  have  won  ? 

But  my  songs  and  verses,  he  said,  are  not  in  honour  of 
myself,  Socrates. 

48  L  YSIS. 

You  think  not,  I  said. 

But  what  are  they,  then  ?  he  replied. 

Most  assuredly,  I  said,  those  songs  are  all  in  your  own 
honour  ;  for  if  you  win  your  beautiful  love,  your  discourses  and 
songs  will  be  a  glory  to  you,  and  may  be  truly  regarded  as 
hymns  of  praise  composed  in  honour  of  you  who  have  con 
quered  and  won  such  a  love  ;  but  if  he  slips  away  from  you, 
the  more  you  have  praised  him,  the  more  ridiculous  you  will 
look  at  having  lost  this  fairest  and  best  of  blessings ;  and 
therefore  the  wise  lover  does  not  praise  his  beloved  until  he  206 
has  won  him,  because  he  is  afraid  of  accidents.  There  is  also 
another  danger ;  the  fair,  when  any  one  praises  or  magnifies 
them,  are  filled  with  the  spirit  of  pride  and  vain-glory.  Is  not 
that  true  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  the  more  vain-glorious  they  are,  the  more  difficult  is  the 
capture  of  them  ? 

I  believe  that. 

What  should  you  say  of  a  hunter  who  frightened  away  his 
prey,  and  made  the  capture  of  the  animals  which  he  is  hunting 
more  difficult  ? 

He  would  be  a  bad  hunter,  that  is  clear. 

Yes  ;  and  if,  instead  of  soothing  them,  he  were  to  infuriate 
them  with  words  and  songs,  that  would  show  a  great  want  of 
wit :  do  you  not  agree  with  me  ? 


And  now  reflect,  Hippothales,  and  see  whether  you  are  not 
guilty  of  all  these  errors  in  writing  poetry.  For  I  can  hardly 
suppose  that  you  will  affirm  a  man  to  be  a  good  poet  who 
injures  himself  by. his  poetry. 

Assuredly  not,  he  said  :  I  should  be  a  fool  if  I  said  that ;  and 
this  makes  me  desirous,  Socrates,  of  taking  you  into  my  coun 
sels,  and  I  shall  be  glad  of  any  further  advice  which  you  may 
have  to  offer.  Will  you  tell  me  by  what  words  or  actions  I 
may  become  endeared  to  my  love  ? 

That  is  not  easy  to  determine,  I  said  ;  but  if  you  will  bring 
your  love  to  me,  and  will  let  me  talk  with  him,  I  may  perhaps 
be  able  to  show  you  how  to  converse  with  him,  instead  of 
singing  and  reciting  in  the  fashion  of  which  you  are  accused. 

L  YSIS.  49 

There  will  be  no  difficulty  in  bringing  him,  he  replied  ;  if 
you  will  only  go  into  the  house  with  Ctesippus,  and  sit  down 
and  talk,  I  believe  that  he  will  come  of  himself;  for  he  is  fond 
of  listening,  Socrates.  And  as  this  is  the  festival  of  the  Hermaea, 
the  young  men  and  boys  are  all  together,  and  there  is  no  sepa 
ration  between  them.  He  will  be  sure  to  come  :  but  if  he  does 
not,  Ctesippus  with  whom  he  is  familiar,  and  whose  relation 
Menexenus  is  his  great  friend,  shall  call  him. 

That  will  be  the  way,  I  said.  Thereupon  I  and  Ctesippus 
went  towards  the  Palaestra,  and  the  rest  followed. 

Upon  entering  we  found  that  the  boys  had  just  been  sacri 
ficing  ;  and  this  part  of  the  festival  was  nearly  at  an  end. 
They  were  all  in  white  array,  and  games  at  dice  were  going  on 
among  them.  Most  of  them  were  in  the  outer  court  amusing 
themselves  ;  but  some  were  in  a  corner  of  the  Apodyterium 
playing  at  odd  and  even  with  a  number  of  dice,  which  they  took 
out  of  little  wicker  baskets.  There  was  also  a  circle  of  lookers 
on,  one  of  whom  was  Lysis.  He  was  standing  among  the  other 
207  boys  and  youths,  having  a  crown  upon  his  head,  like  a  fair 
vision,  and  not  less  worthy  of  praise  for  his  goodness  than  for 
his  beauty.  We  left  them,  and  went  over  to  the  opposite  side 
of  the  room,  where,  finding  a  quiet  place,  we  sat  down  ;  and 
then  we  began  to  talk.  This  attracted  Lysis,  who  was  con 
stantly  turning  round  to  look  at  us — he  was  evidently  wanting 
to  come  to  us.  For  a  time  he  hesitated  and  had  not  the  courage 
to  come  alone  ;  but  first  of  all,  his  friend  Menexenus  came  in 
out  of  the  court  in  the  interval  of  his  play,  and  when  he  saw 
Ctesippus  and  myself,  came  and  sat  by  us ;  and  then  Lysis, 
seeing  him,  followed,  and  sat  down  with  him  ;  and  the  other 
boys  joined.  I  should  observe  that  Hippothales,  when  he  saw 
the  crowd,  got  behind  them,  where  he  thought  that  he  would 
be  out  of  sight  of  Lysis,  lest  he  should  anger  him  ;  and  there 
he  stood  and  listened. 

I  turned  to  Menexenus,  and  said  :  Son  of  Demophon,  which 
of  you  two  youths  is  the  elder  ? 

That  is  a  matter  of  dispute  between  us,  he  said. 

And  which  is  the  nobler  ?     Is  that  a  matter  of  dispute  too  ? 

Yes,  certainly. 

And  another  disputed  point  is,  which  is  the  fairer? 
VOL.  I.  K 

50  LYSIS. 

The  two  boys  laughed. 

I  shall  not  ask  which  is  the  richer,  I  said  ;   for  you  two  are 
friends,  are  you  not  ? 
Certainly,  they  replied. 

And  friends  have  all  things  in  common,  so  that  one  of  you 
can  be  no  richer  than  the  other,  if  you  say  truly  that  you  are 

They  assented.  I  was  about  to  ask  which  was  the  juster  of 
the  two,  and  which  was  the  wiser  of  the  two  ;  but  at  this 
moment  Menexenus  was  called  away  by  some  one  who  came 
and  said  that  the  gymnastic-master  wanted  him.  I  supposed 
that  he  had  to  offer  sacrifice.  So  he  went  away,  and  I  asked 
Lysis  some  more  questions.  I  dare  say,  Lysis,  I  said,  that  your 
father  and  mother  love  you  very  much. 
That  they  do,  he  said. 

And  they  would  wish  you  to  be  perfectly  happy. 

But  do  you  think  that  any  one  is  happy  who  is  in  the  con 
dition  of  a  slave,  and  who  cannot  do  what  he  likes  ? 
I  should  think  not  indeed,  he  said. 

And  if  your  father  and  mother  love  you,  and  desire  that  you 
should  be  happy,  no  one  can  doubt  that  they  are  very  ready  to 
promote  your  happiness. 
Certainly,  he  replied. 

And  do  they  then  permit  you  to  do  what  you  like,  and  never 
rebuke  you  or  hinder  you  from  doing  what  you  desire  ? 

Yes,  indeed,  Socrates  ;  there  are  a  great  many  things  which 
they  hinder  me  from  doing. 

What  do  you  mean  ?    I  said.    Do  they  want  you  to  be  happy, 
and  yet  hinder  you  from  doing  what  you  like  ?  for  example,  if  208 
you  want  to  mount  one  of  your  father's  chariots,  and  take  the 
reins  at  a  race,  they  will  not  allow  you  to  do  that — they  will 
prevent  you  ? 

Certainly,  he  said,  they  will  not  allow  me  to  do  that. 
Whom  then  will  they  allow  ? 

There  is  a  charioteer,  whom  my  father  pays  for  driving. 
And  do  they  trust  a  hireling  more  than  you  ?  and  may  he  do 
what  he  likes  with  the  horses  ?  and  do  they  pay  him  for  this  ? 
They  do. 

LYSIS.  51 

But  I  dare  say  that  you  may  take  the  whip  and  guide  the 
mule-cart  if  you  like  ; — they  will  permit  that  ? 

Permit  me !  no  they  will  not. 

Then,  I  said,  may  no  one  use  the  whip  to  the  mules  ? 

Yes,  he  said,  the  muleteer. 

And  is  he  a  slave  or  a  free  man  ? 

A  slave,  he  said. 

And  do  they  esteem  a  slave  of  more  value  than  you  who  are 
their  son  ?  And  do  they  entrust  their  property  to  him  rather 
than  to  you  ?  and  allow  him  to  do  what  he  likes,  when  you 
may  not  ?  Answer  me  now  :  Are  you  your  own  master,  or  do 
they  not  even  allow  that  ? 

Nay,  he  said  ;  of  course  they  do  not  allow  that. 

Then  you  have  a  master  ? 

Yes,  my  tutor ;  there  he  is. 

And  is  he  a  slave  ? 

To  be  sure ;  he  is  our  slave,  he  replied. 

Surely,  I  said,  this  is  a  strange  thing,  that  a  free  man  should 
be  governed  by  a  slave.  And  what  does  he  do  with  you  ? 

He  takes  me  to  my  teachers. 

You  do  not  mean  to  say  that  your  teachers  also  rule  over  you  ? 

Of  course  they  do. 

Then  I  must  say  that  your  father  is  pleased  to  inflict  many 
lords  and  masters  on  you.  But  at  any  rate  when  you  go  home 
to  your  mother,  she  will  let  you  have  your  own  way,  and  will 
not  interfere  with  your  happiness  ;  her  wool,  or  the  piece  of 
cloth  which  she  is  weaving,  are  at  your  disposal :  I  am  sure 
that  there  is  nothing  to  hinder  you  from  touching  her  wooden 
spathe,  or  her  comb,  or  any  other  of  her  spinning  implements. 

Nay,  Socrates,  he  replied,  laughing ;  not  only  does  she  hinder 
me,  but  I  should  be  beaten,  if  I  were  to  touch  one  of  them. 

Well,  I  said,  that  is  amazing.  And  did  you  ever  behave  ill 
to  your  father  or  your  mother? 

No,  indeed,  he  replied. 

But  why  then   are  they  so  terribly  anxious   to   prevent  you 

from  being  happy,  and  doing  as  you  like  ? — keeping  you  all  day 

long   in   subjection   to   another,  and,  in   a  word,  doing  nothing 

which  you  desire;    so  that  you  have  no  good,  as  would  appear, 

209  out  of  their  great  possessions,  which  are  under  the  control  of 

E  2 

52  LYSIS. 

anybody  rather  than  of  you,  and  have  no  use  of  your  own  fair 
person,  which  is  committed  to  the  care  of  a  shepherd  ;  while 
you,  Lysis,  are  master  of  nobody,  and  can  do  nothing  ? 

Why,  he  said,  Socrates,  the  reason  is  that  I  am  not  of  age. 
I  doubt  whether  that  is  the  real  reason,  I  said  ;  for  I  should 
imagine   that   your  father   Democrates,    and   your   mother,   do 
permit  you  to  do  many  things  already,  and  do  not  wait  until 
you  are  of  age:    for  example,  if  they  want  anything  read  or 
written,  you,  I  presume,  would  be  the  first  person  in  the  house 
who  is  summoned  by  them. 
Very  true. 

And  you  would  be  allowed  to  write  or  read  the  letters  in  any 
order  which  you  please,  or  to  take  up  the  lyre  and  tune  the 
notes,  and  play  with  the  fingers,  or  strike  with  the  plectrum, 
exactly  as  you  please,  and  neither  father  nor  mother  would 
interfere  with  you. 
That  is  true,  he  said. 

Then  what  can  be  the  reason,  Lysis,  I  said,  why  they  allow 
you  to  do  the  one  and  not  the  other  ? 

I  suppose,  he  said,  because  I  understand  the  one,  and  not  the 

Yes,  my  dear  youth,  I  said,  the  reason  is  not  any  deficiency 
/of  years,  but  a  deficiency  of  knowledge;    and  whenever  your 
ft  father  thinks  that  you  are  wiser  than  he  is,  he  will  instantly 
'  commit  himself  and  his  possessions  to  you. 
That  I  believe. 

Aye,  I   said  ;    and   about  your   neighbour,  too,  does  not  the 
same  rule  hold  as  about  your  father  ?    If  he  is  satisfied  that  you 
know  more  of  housekeeping  than  he  does,  will  he  continue  to 
administer  his  affairs  himself,  or  will  he  commit  them  to  you  ? 
I  think  that  he  will  commit  them  to  me. 

Will  not  the  Athenian  people,  too,  entrust  their  affairs  to  you 
when  they  see  that  you  have  wisdom  enough  to  manage  them? 

And  oh !  let  me  put  another  case,  I  said  :  There  is  the  great 
king,  and  he  has  an  eldest  son,  who  is  the  Prince  of  Asia  ;— 
suppose  that  you  and  I  go  to  him  and  establish  to  his  satis 
faction  that  we  are  better  cooks  than  his  son,  will  he  not  entrust 
to  us  the  prerogative  of  making  soup,  and  putting  in  anything 



that  we  like  while  the  pot  is  boiling,  rather  than  to  the  Prince 
of  Asia,  who  is  his  son  ? 

To  us,  clearly. 

And  we  shall  be  allowed  to  throw  in  salt  by  handfuls,  whereas 
the  son  will  not  be  allowed  to  put  in  as  much  as  he  can  take 
up  between  his  fingers  ? 

Of  course. 

Or  suppose  again  that  the  son  has  bad  eyes,  will    he    allow 
him,  or  will    he    not   allow   him,  to    touch  his  own  eyes    if   he 
thinks  that  he  has  no  knowledge  of  medicine  ? 
210       He  will  not  allow  him. 

Whereas,  if  we  are  supposed  to  have  a  knowledge  of  medi 
cine,  he  will  allow  us  to  do  what  we  like  with  him — even  to 
open  the  eyes  wide  and  sprinkle  ashes  upon  them,  because  he 
supposes  that  we  know  what  is  best  ? 

That  is  true. 

And  everything  in  which  we  appear  to  him  to  be  wiser  than 
himself  or  his  son  he  will  commit  to  us  ? 

That  is  very  true,  Socrates,  he  replied. 

Then  now,  my  dear  Lysis,  I  said,  you  perceive  that  in  things 
"  which  we  know  every  one  will  trust  us, — Hellenes  and  bar 
barians,  men  and  women, — and  we  may  do  as  we  please  about 
them,  and  no  one  will  like  to  interfere  with  us  ;  we  shall  be 
free,  and  masters  of  others  ;  and  these  things  will  be  really  ours, 
for  we  shall  be  benefited  by  them.  But  in  things  of  which  we 
have  no  understanding,  no  one  will  trust  us  to  do  as  seems 
good  to  us— they  will  hinder  us  as  far  as  they  can  ;  and  not 
only  strangers,  but  father  and  mother,  and  the  friend,  if  there 
be  one,  who  is  dearer  still,  will  also  hinder  us  ;  and  we  shall  be 
subject  to  others  ;  and  these  things  will  not  be  ours,  for  we 
shall  not  be  benefited  by  them.  Do  you  admit  that  ? 

He  assented. 

And  shall  we  be  friends  to  others,  and  will  any  others  love 
us,  in  as  far  as  we  are  useless  to  them  ? 

Certainly  not. 

Neither  can  your  father  or  mother  love  you,  nor  can  anybody 
love  anybody  else,  in  as  far  as  they  are  useless  to  them  ? 


And  therefore,  my  boy,  if  you  are  wise,  all  men  will  be  your 

54  L  YSIS. 

friends  and  kindred,  for  you  will  be  useful  and  good  ;  but  if 
you  are  not  wise,  neither  father,  nor  mother,  nor  kindred,  nor 
any  one  else,  will  be  your  friends.  And  in  matters  of  which 
you  have  as  yet  no  knowledge,  can  you  have  any  conceit  of 
knowledge  ? 

That  is  impossible,  he  replied. 

And  you,  Lysis,  if  you  require  a  teacher,  have  not  yet  attained 
to  wisdom. 


And  therefore  you  are  not  conceited,  having  nothing  of  which 
to  be  conceited. 

Indeed,  Socrates,  I  think  not. 

When  I  heard  him  say  this,  I  turned  to  Hippothales,  and  was 
very  nearly  making  a  blunder,  for  I  was  going  to  say  to  him  : 
That  is  the  way,  Hippothales,  in  which  you  should  talk  to  your 
beloved,  humbling  and  lowering  him,  and  not  as  you  do,  puffing 
him  up  and  spoiling  him.  But  I  saw  that  he  was  in  great  ex 
citement  and  confusion  at  what  had  been  said,  and  I  remem 
bered  that,  although  he  was  in  the  neighbourhood,  he  did  not 
want  to  be  seen  by  Lysis  ;  so  I  thought  better  and  refrained.  211 

In  the  meantime  Menexenus  came  back  and  sat  down  in  his 
place  by  Lysis  ;  and  Lysis,  in  a  childish  and  affectionate 
manner,  whispered  privately  in  my  ear,  so  that  Menexenus 
should  not  hear :  Do,  Socrates,  tell  Menexenus  what  you  have 
been  telling  me. 

Suppose  that  you  tell  him  yourself,  Lysis,  I  replied  ;  for  I 
am  sure  that  you  were  attending. 

That  I  was,  he  replied. 

Try,  then,  to  remember  the  words,  and  be  as  exact  as  you 
can  in  repeating  them  to  him,  and  if  you  have  forgotten  any 
thing,  ask  me  again  the  next  time  that  you  see  me. 

I  will  be  sure  to  do  that,  Socrates ;  but  go  on  telling  him 
something  new,  and  let  me  hear,  as  long  as  I  am  allowed  to 

I  certainly  cannot  refuse,  I  said,  as  you  ask  me ;  but  then,  as 
you  know,  Menexenus  is  very  pugnacious,  and  therefore  you 
must  come  to  the  rescue  if  he  attempts  to  upset  me. 

Yes,  indeed,  he  said  ;  he  is  very  pugnacious,  and  that  is  the 
reason  why  I  want  you  to  argue  with  him. 

LYSIS.  55 

That  I  may  make  a  fool  of  myself? 

No,  indeed,  he  said  ;  but  that  you  may  put  him  down. 

That  is  no  easy  matter,  I  replied  ;  for  he  is  a  terrible  fellow— 
a  pupil  of  Ctesippus.    And  there  is  Ctesippus  :  do  you  see  him  ? 

Never  mind,  Socrates,  you  shall  argue  with  him. 

Well,  I  suppose  that  I  must,  I  replied. 

Hereupon  Ctesippus  complained  that  we  were  talking  in 
secret,  and  keeping  the  feast  to  ourselves. 

I  shall  be  happy,  I  said,  to  let  you  have  a  share.  Here  is 
Lysis,  who  does  not  understand  something  that  I  was  saying, 
and  wants  me  to  ask  Menexenus,  who,  as  he  thinks,  will  be 
able  to  answer. 

And  why  do  not  you  ask  him  ?  he  said. 

Very  well,  I  said,  I  will  ask  him  ;  and  do  you,  Menexenus, 
answer.  But  first  I  must  tell  you  that  I  am  one  who  from  my 
childhood  upward  have  set  my  heart  upon  a  certain  thing.  All 
people  have  their  fancies  ;  some  desire  horses,  and  others  dogs  ; 
and  some  are  fond  of  gold,  and  others  of  honour.  Now,  I  have 
no  violent  desire  of  any  of  these  things  ;  but  I  have  a  passion 
for  friends  ;  and  I  would  rather  have  a  good  friend  than  the 
best  cock  or  quail  in  the  world  :  I  would  even  go  further,  and 
say  than  a  horse  or  dog.  Yea,  by  the  dog  of  Egypt,  I  should 
212  greatly  prefer  a  real  friend  to  all  the  gold  of  Darius,  or  even  to 
Darius  himself:  I  am  such  a  lover  of  friends  as  that.  And 
when  I  see  you  and  Lysis,  at  your  early  age,  so  easily  possessed 
of  this  treasure,  and  so  soon,  he  of  you,  and  you  of  him,  I  am 
amazed  and  delighted,  seeing  that  I  myself,  although  I  am  now 
advanced  in  years,  am  so  far  from  having  made  a  similar 
acquisition,  that  I  do  not  even  know  in  what  way  a  friend  is 
acquired.  But  I  want  to  ask  you  a  question  about  this,  for  you 
have  experience  :  tell  me  then,  when  one  loves  another,  is  the 
lover  or  the  beloved  the  friend  ;  or  may  either  be  the  friend  ? 
\  I  think  that  either  may  be  the  friend. 

Do  you  mean,  I  said,  that  if  only  one  of  them  loves  the 
other,  they  are  mutual  friends  ? 

Yes,  he  said  ;  that  is  my  meaning. 

But  what  if  the  lover  is  not  loved  in  return  ?  That  is  a 
possible  case. 


56  LYSIS. 

Or  is,  perhaps,  even  hated  ?  for  that  is  a  fancy  which  lovers 
sometimes  have.  Nothing  can  exceed  their  love  ;  and  yet  they 
imagine  either  that  they  are  not  loved  in  return,  or  that  they 
are  hated.  Is  not  that  true  ? 

Yes,  he  said,  quite  true. 

In  that  case,  the  one  loves,  and  the  other  is  loved  ? 


Then  which  is  the  friend  of  which  ?  Is  the  lover  the  friend  of 
the  beloved,  whether  he  be  loved  in  return,  or  hated  ;  or  is  the 
beloved  the  friend  ;  or  is  there  no  friendship  at  all  on  either 
side,  unless  they  both  love  one  another  ? 

There  would  seem  to  be  none  at  all. 

Then  that  is  at  variance  with  our  former  notion.  Just  now, 
both  were  friends,  if  one  only  loved  ;  and  now,  unless  they  both 
love,  neither  is  a  friend. 

That  appears  to  be  true. 

Then  nothing  which  does  not  love  in  return  is  beloved  by  a 
lover  ? 

I  think  not. 

Then  they  are  not  lovers  of  horses,  whom  the  horses  do  not 
love  in  return  ;  nor  lovers  of  quails,  nor  of  dogs,  nor  of  wine, 
nor  of  gymnastic  exercises,  who  have  no  return  of  love ;  no,  nor 
of  wisdom,  unless  wisdom  loves  them  in  return.  Or  shall  we 
say  that  they  do  love  them,  although  they  are  not  beloved  by 
them  ;  and  that  the  poet  was  wrong  who  sings : — 

'  Happy  the  man  to  whom  his  children  are  dear,  and  steeds  having 
single  hoofs,  and  dogs  of  chase,  and  the  stranger  of  another  land.' 

I  do  not  think  that  he  was  wrong. 

Then  you  think  that  he  is  right  ? 


Then,  Menexenus,  the  conclusion  is,  that  what  is  beloved  may 
be  dear,   whether  loving   or  hating :    for  example,  very  young 
children,   too   young  to   love,   or   even    hating    their    father   or  213 
mother  when  they  are   punished   by  them,  are   never  dearer  to 
them  than  at  the  time  when  they  are  being  hated  by  them. 

I  think  that  what  you  say  is  true. 

And,  if  so,  not  the  lover,  but  the  beloved,  is  the  friend  or  dear 
one  ? 

LYSIS.  57 


And  the  hated  one,  and  not  the  hater,  is  the  enemy  ? 

That  is  plain. 

Then  many  men  are  loved  by  their  enemies,  and  hated  by 
their  friends,  and  are  the  friends  of  their  enemies,  and  the 
enemies  of  their  friends— this,  my  dear  friend,  is  the  absurdity.- 
or  rather  the  impossibility,  which  follows,  if  the  beloved  is  dear 
and  not  the  lover. 

I  believe,  Socrates,  that  what  you  say  is  true. 

But  if  this  cannot  be,  the  lover  will  be  the  friend  of  that 
which  is  loved  ? 


And  the  hater  will  be  the  enemy  of  that  which  is  hated? 


Yet  we  must  acknowledge  in  this,  as  in  the  preceding  in 
stance,  that  a  man  may  be  the  friend  of  one  who  is  not  his 
friend,  or  who  may  be  his  enemy,  when  he  loves  that  which 
does  not  love  him,  or  perhaps  hates  him.  And  he  may  be  the 
enemy  of  one  who  is  not  his  enemy,  and  is  even  his  friend  : 
for  example,  when  he  hates  that  which  does  not  hate  him,  or 
perhaps  even  loves  him. 

That  appears  to  be  true. 

But  if  the  lover  is  not  a  friend,  nor  the  beloved  a  friend, 
nor  both  together,  what  are  we  to  say  ?  Whom  are  we  to  call 
friends  to  one  another  ?  Do  any  remain  ? 

Indeed,  Socrates,  I  cannot  find  any. 

But,  O  Menexenus !  I  said,  may  we  not  have  been  altogether 
wrong  in  our  conclusions  ? 

I  am  sure  that  we  have  been  wrong,  Socrates,  said  Lysis. 
And  he  blushed  as  he  spoke  ;  for  the  words  seemed  to  come 
from  his  lips  involuntarily,  because  he  was  taken  up  with  the 
argument ;  there  was  no  mistaking  his  attentive  look  while  he 
was  listening. 

I  was  pleased  at  the  interest  which  was  shown  by  Lysis,  and 
I  wanted  to  give  Menexenus  a  rest,  so  I  turned  to  him  and 
said,  I  think,  Lysis,  that  what  you  say  is  true,  and  that,  if  we 
had  been  right,  we  should  never  have  gone  so  far  wrong  ;  let 
us  proceed  no  further  in  this  direction  (for  the  road  seems  to 
be  getting  troublesome),  but  take  the  other  in  which  the  poets 

58  L  YSIS. 

will  be  our  guide  ;    for  they  are  to  us  in  a  manner  the  fathers  2 14 
and  authors  of  wisdom,  and  they  speak  of  friends  in  no  light 
or  trivial  manner,  but  God  himself,  as  they  say,  makes   them 
and  draws  them  to  one  another ;  and  this  they  express,  if  I  am 
not  mistaken,  in  the  following  words : — 

'God  is  ever  drawing  like  towards  like,  and  making  them  acquainted.' 

I  dare  say  that  you  have  heard  those  words. 

Yes,  he  said  ;   I  have. 

And  have  you  not  also  met  with  the  treatises  of  philosophers 
who  say  that  like  must  love  like  ?  they  are  the  people  who 
argue  and  write  about  nature  and  the  universe. 

That  is  true,  he  said. 

And  are  they  right  in  saying  that  ? 

They  may  be. 

Perhaps,  I  said,  about  half  right,  or  probably  altogether  right, 
if  their  meaning  were  rightly  apprehended  by  us.  For  the 
more  a  bad  man  has  to  do  with  a  bad  man,  and  the  more 
nearly  he  is  brought  into  contact  with  him,  the  more  he  will  be 
likely  to  hate  him,  for  he  injures  him  ;  and  injurer  and  injured 
cannot  be  friends.  Is  not  that  true  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

Then  one  half  of  the  saying  is  untrue,  if  the  wicked  are  like 
one  another? 

That  is  true. 

But  the  real  meaning  of  the  saying,  as  I  imagine,  is,  that  the 
good  are  like  one  another,  and  friends  to  one  another ;  and 
that  the  bad,  as  is  often  said  of  them,  are  never  at  unity  with 
one  another  or  with  themselves  ;  for  they  are  passionate  and 
restless,  and  anything  which  is  at  variance  and  enmity  with  itself 
is  not  likely  to  be  in  union  or  harmony  with  any  other  thing. 
Do  you  not  agree  to  that  ? 

Yes,  I  do. 

Then,  my  friend,  those  who  say  that  the  like  is  friendly  to 
the  like  mean  to  intimate,  if  I  rightly  apprehend  them,  that  the 
good  only  is  the  friend  of  the  good,  and  of  him  only ;  but  that 
the  evil  never  attains  to  any  real  friendship,  either  with  good 
or  evil.  Do  you  agree  ? 

He  nodded  assent. 

L  YSIS.  59 

Then  now  we  know  how  to  answer  the  question  'Who  are 
friends?'  for  the  argument  declares  '  That  the  good  are  friends.' 

Yes,  he  said,  that  is  true. 

Yes,  I  replied  ;  and  yet  I  am  not  quite  satisfied  with  this 
answer.  Shall  I  tell  you  what  I  suspect  ?  I  will.  Assuming 
that  like,  inasmuch  as  he  is  like,  is  the  friend  of  like,  and 
useful  to  him — or  rather  let  me  try  another  way  of  putting  the 
matter  :  Can  like  do  any  good  or  harm  to  like  which  he  could 
not  do  to  himself,  or  suffer  anything  from  his  like  whicft  he 
would  not  suffer  from  himself?  And  if  neither  can  be  of  any 
215  use  to  the  other,  how  can  they  be  loved  by  one  another? 
Can  they  now  ? 

They  cannot. 

And  can  he  who  is  not  loved  be  a  friend  ? 

Certainly  not. 

But  say  that  the  like  is  not  the  friend  of  the  like  in  as  far 
as  he  is  like ;  still  the  good  may  be  the  friend  of  the  good 
in  as  far  as  he  is  good. 


But  then  again,  will  not  the  good,  in  as  far  as  he  is  good, 
be  sufficient  for  himself?  And  he  who  is  sufficient  wants 
nothing — that  is  implied  in  the  word  sufficient. 

Of  course  not. 

And  he  who  wants  nothing  will  desire  nothing  ? 

He  will  not. 

Neither  can  he  love  that  which  he  does  not  desire  ? 

He  cannot. 

And  he  who  loves  not  is  not  a  lover  or  friend  ? 

Clearly  not. 

What  place  then  is  there  for  friendship,  if,  when  absent,  good 
men  have  no  desire  of  one  another  (for  when  alone  they  are 
sufficient  for  themselves),  and  when  present  have  no  use  of 
one  another  ?  How  can  such  persons  ever  be  induced  to  value 
one  another  ? 

They  cannot. 

And  friends  they  cannot  be,  unless  they  value  one  another  ? 

Very  true. 

But  see  now,  Lysis,  how  we  are  being  deceived  in  all  this  ; 
are  we  not  entirely  wrong  ? 

60  L  YSIS. 

How  is  that  ?  he  said. 

Have  I  not  heard  some  one  say,  as  I  just  now  recollect,  that 
the  like  is  the  greatest  enemy  of  the  like,  the  good  of  the 
good  ? — Yes,  and  he  quoted  the  authority  of  Hesiod,  who  says : 

1  Potter  quarrels  with  potter,  bard  with  bard, 
Beggar  with  beggar;' 

and  of  all  other  things  he  affirmed,  in  like  manner,  'That  of 
necessity  the  most  like  are  most  full  of  envy,  strife,  and  hatred 
of  one  another,  and  the  most  unlike  of  friendship.  For  the 
poor  man  is  compelled  to  be  the  friend  of  the  rich,  and  the 
weak  requires  the  aid  of  the  strong,  and  the  sick  man  of  the 
physician  ;  every  one  who  knows  not  has  to  love  and  court 
him  who  knows.'  And  indeed  he  went  on  to  say  in  grandilo 
quent  language,  that  the  idea  of  friendship  existing  between 
similars  is  not  the  truth,  but  the  very  reverse  of  the  truth,  and 
that  the  most  opposed  are  the  most  friendly ;  for  that  every 
thing  desires  not  like  but  that  which  is  most  unlike :  for 
example,  the  dry  desires  the  moist,  the  cold  the  hot,  the  bitter 
the  sweet,  the  sharp  the  blunt,  the  void  the  full,  the  full  the 
void,  and  so  of  all  other  things  ;  for  the  opposite  is  the  food 
of  the  opposite,  whereas  like  receives  nothing  from  like.  And  216 
I  thought  that  he  was  a  charming  man  who  said  this,  and 
that  he  spoke  well.  What  do  the  rest  of  you  say  ? 

I  shouldjsay,  at  first  hearing,  that  he  is  right,  said  Mene- 

Then  we  are  to  say  that  the  greatest  friendship  is  of  op- 
posites  ? 


Yes,  Menexenus  ;  but  will  not  that  be  a  monstrous  answer  ? 
and  will  not  the  all-wise  eristics  be  down  upon  us  in  triumph, 
and  ask,  fairly  enough,  whether  love  is  not  the  very  opposite 
of  hate?  and  what  answer  shall  we  make  to  them — must  we 
not  admit  that  they  speak  truly  ? 

That  we  must. 

They  will  then  proceed  to  ask  whether  the  enemy  is  the 
friend  of  the  friend,  or  the  friend  the  friend  of  the  enemy  ?  k 

Neither,  he  replied. 

Well,  but  is  a  just  man  the  friend  of  the  unjust,  or  the  tem 
perate  of  the  intemperate,  or  the  good  of  the  bad  ? 

LYSIS.  6 1 

I  do  not  see  how  that  is  possible. 

And  yet,  I  said,  if  friendship  goes  by  contraries,  the  con 
traries  must  be  friends. 

They  must. 

Then  neither  like  and  like  nor  unlike  and  unlike  are  friends. 

I  suppose  not. 

And  yet  there  is  a  further  consideration  :  may  not  all  these 
notions  of  friendship  be  erroneous  ?  but  still  may  there  not  be 
cases  in  which  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  bad  is  the  friend 
of  the  good  ? 

How  do  you  mean  ?  he  said. 

Why  really,  I  said,  the  truth  is  that  I  do  not  know ;  but  my 
head  is  dizzy  with  thinking  of  the  argument,  and  therefore  I 
hazard  the  conjecture,  that  'the  beautiful  is  the  friend,'  as  the 
old  proverb  says.  Beauty  is  certainly  a  soft,  smooth,  slippery 
thing,  and  therefore  of  a  nature  which  easily  slips  in  and  per 
meates  our  souls.  For  I  affirm  that  the  good  is  the  beautiful. 
You  will  agree  to  that  ? 


This  I  say  from  a  sort  of  notion  that  what  is  neither  good 
nor  evil  is  the  friend  of  the  beautiful  and  the  good,  and  I  will 
tell  you  why  I  am  inclined  to  think  so  :  I  assume  that  there 
are  three  principles — the  good,  the  bad,  and  that  which  is  neither 
good  nor  bad.  What  do  you  say  to  that  ? 

I  agree. 

And  neither  is  the  good  the  friend  of  the  good,  nor  the  evil 
of  the  evil,  nor  the  good  of  the  evil  ; — that  the  preceding  argu 
ment  will  not  allow  :  and  therefore  the  only  alternative  is — if 
there  be  such  a  thing  as  friendship  or  love  at  all — that  what  is 
neither  good  nor  evil  must  be  the  friend,  either  of  the  good, 
or  of  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil,  for  nothing  can  be 
the  friend  of  the  bad. 


Nor  can  like  be  the  friend  of  like,  as  we  were  just  now 


Then  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil  can  have  no  friend 
which  is  neither  good  nor  evil. 

That  is  evident. 

62  LYSIS. 

Then  the  good  alone  is  the  friend  of  that  only  which  is 
neither  good  nor  evil. 

That  may  be  assumed  to  be  certain.  217 

And  does  not  this  seem  to  put  us  in  the  right  way  ?  Just 
remark,  that  the  body  which  is  in  health  requires  neither  medical 
nor  any  other  aid,  but  is  well  enough  ;  and  the  healthy  man  has 
no  love  of  the  physician,  because  he  is  in  health. 

He  has  none. 

But  the  sick  loves  him,  because  he  is  sick  ? 


And  sickness  is  an  evil,  and  the  art  of  medicine  a  good  and 
useful  thing  ? 


But  the  human  body,  regarded  as  a  body,  is  neither  good 
nor  evil  ? 


And  the  body  is  compelled  by  reason  of  disease  to  court  and 
make  friends  of  the  art  of  medicine  ? 


Then  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil  becomes  the  friend 
of  good,  by  reason  of  the  presence  of  evil  ? 

That  is  the  inference. 

And  clearly  this  must  have  happened  before  that  which  was 
neither  good  nor  evil  had  become  altogether  corrupted  with  the 
element  of  evil,  for  then  it  would  not  still  desire  and  love  the 
good  ;  for,  as  we  were  saying,  the  evil  cannot  be  the  friend  of 
the  good. 

That  is  impossible. 

Further,  I  must  observe  that  some  substances  are  assimilated 
when  others  are  present  with  them  ;  and  there  are  some  which 
are  not  assimilated  :  take,  for  example,  the  case  of  an  ointment 
or  colour  which  is  put  on  another  substance. 

Very  good. 

In  such  a  case,  is  the  substance  which  is  anointed  the  same 
as  the  colour  or  ointment  ? 

What  do  you  mean  ?  he  said. 

This  is  what  I  mean,  I  said  :  Suppose  that  I  were  to  cover 
your  auburn  locks  with  white  lead,  would  they  be  really  white, 
or  would  they  only  appear  to  be  white  ? 

L  YSIS.  6 

They  would  only  appear  to  be  white,  he  replied. 

And  yet  whiteness  would  be  present  in  them. 


But  that  would  not  make  them  at  all  the  more  white,  not 
withstanding  the  presence  of  white  in  them— they  would  be 
neither  white  nor  black. 


But  when  old  age  infuses  whiteness  into  them,  then  they 
become  assimilated,  and  are  white  by  the  presence  of  white. 


Now  I  want  to  know  whether  in  all  cases  a  substance  is 
assimilated  by  the  presence  of  another  substance  ;  or  must  the 
presence  be  after  a  peculiar  sort  ? 

The  latter,  he  said. 

Then  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil  may  be  in  the 
presence  of  evil,  but  not  as  yet  evil,  and  that  has  happened 
before  now  ? 


And  when  anything  is  in  the  presence  of  evil,  not  being  as 
yet  evil,  the  presence  of  good  arouses  the  desire  of  good  in  that 
18  thing;  but  the  presence  of  evil,  which  makes  a  thing  evil,  takes 
away  the  desire  and  friendship  of  the  good  ;  for  that  which  was 
once  both  good  and  evil  has  now  become  evil  only,  and  the 
good  had  no  friendship  with  the  evil  ? 


And  therefore  we  say  that  those  who  are  already  wise, 
whether  Gods  or  men,  are  no  longer  lovers  of  wisdom ;  nor 
can  they  be  lovers  of  wisdom,  who  are  ignorant  to  the  extent  of 
being  evil,  for  no  evil  or  ignorant  person  is  a  lover  of  wisdom. 
There  remain  those  who  have  the  misfortune  to  be  ignorant, 
but  are  not  yet  hardened  in  their  ignorance,  or  void  of  under 
standing,  and  do  not  as  yet  fancy  that  they  know  what  they  do 
not  know  :  and  therefore  those  who  are  the  lovers  of  wisdom 
are  as  yet  neither  good  nor  bad.  But  the  bad  do  not  love 
wisdom  any  more  than  the  good  ;  for,  as  we  have  already  seen, 
neither  unlike  is  the  friend  of  unlike,  nor  like  of  like.  You 
remember  that  ? 

Yes,  they  both  said. 

And  so,  Lysis  and  Menexenus,  we  have  discovered  the  nature 

64  L  YSIS. 

of  friendship — there  can  be  no  doubt  of  that :  Friendship  is  the 
love  which  the  neither  good  nor  evil  has  of  the  good,  when  the 
evil  is  present,  either  in  the  soul,  or  in  the  body,  or  any 

/  They  both  agreed  and  entirely  assented,  and  for  a  moment 
I  rejoiced  and  was  satisfied  like  a  huntsman  whose  prey  is 
within  his  grasp.  But  then  a  suspicion  came  across  me,  and  I 
fancied  unaccountably  that  the  conclusion  was  untrue,  and  I  felt 
pained,  and  said,  Alas  !  Lysis  and  Menexenus,  I  am  afraid  that 
we  have  gained  a  shadow. 

Why  do  you  say  that  ?  said  Menexenus. 

I  am  afraid,  I  said,  that  the  argument  about  friendship  is 
false  :  arguments,  like  men,  are  often  pretenders. 

How  is  that  ?  he  asked. 

Well,  I  said  ;  look  at  the  matter  in  this  way :  a  friend  is  the 
friend  of  some  one ;  is  he  not  ? 

Certainly  he  is. 

And  has  he  a  motive  and  object  in  being  a  friend,  or  has  he 
no  motive  and  object  ? 

He  has  a  motive  and  object. 

And  is  the  object  which  makes  him  a  friend  dear  to  him,  or 
neither  dear  nor  hateful  to  him  ? 

I  do  not  quite  follow  you,  he  said. 

I  do  not  wonder  at  that,  I  said.  But  perhaps,  if  I  put  the 
matter  in  another  way,  you  will  be  able  to  follow  me,  and 
my  own  meaning  will  be  clearer  to  myself.  The  sick  man, 
as  I  was  just  now  saying,  is  the  friend  of  the  physician — is 
he  not  ? 


And  he  is  the  friend  of  the  physician  because  of  disease,  and 
for  the  sake  of  health  ? 


And  disease  is  an  evil  ? 


And  what  of  health  ?   I  said.    Is  that  good  or  evil,  or  neither  ? 

Good,  he  replied.  219 

And  we  were  saying,  I  believe,  that  the  body  being  neither 
good  nor  evil,  because  of  disease,  that  is  to  say  because  of  evil, 
is  the  friend  of  medicine,  and  medicine  is  a  good  :  and  medicine 

LYSIS.  65 

has  entered  into  this  friendship  for  the  sake  of  health,  and  health 
is  a  good. 

And  is  health  a  friend,  or  not  a  friend  ? 
A  friend. 

And  disease  is  an  enemy  ? 

Then  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil  is  the  friend  of  the 
good  because  of  the  evil  and  hateful,  and  for  the  sake  of  the 
good  and  the  friend  ? 
That  is  clear. 

Then  the  friend  is  a  friend  for  the  sake  of  the   friend,   and 
because  of  the  enemy  ? 

>*That  is  to  be  inferred. 

/  W/     Then  at  this  point,  my  boys,  let  us  take  heed,  and  be  on  our 
(   '       guard  against  deceptions.     I  will  no  more  say  that  the  friend  is 
the  friend  of  the  friend,  and  the  like  of  the  like,  which  has  been 
declared  by  us   to  be  an  impossibility ;  but,  in  order  that  this 
new  statement  may  not  delude   us,   let  us  attentively  examine 
another  point,  which  I  will   proceed   to  explain  :    Medicine,   as 
we  were  saying,  is  a  friend,  or  dear  to  us  for  the  sake  of  health  ? 

And  health  is  also  dear  ? 

And  if  dear,  then  dear  for  the  sake  of  something  ? 

And  surely  this  object  must  also  be  dear,  as  is  implied  in  our 
previous  admissions  ? 

And  that  something  dear  involves  something  else  dear? 

But  then,  proceeding  in  this  way,  we  shall  at  last  come  to  an 
end,  and  arrive  at  some  first  principle  of  friendship  or  dearness 
which  is  not  capable  of  being  referred  to  any  other,  for  the  sake 
of  which,  as  we  maintain,  all  other  things  are  clear. 

My  fear  is  that  all  those  other  things,  which,  as  we  say,  are 
dear  for  the  sake  of  that  other,  are  illusions  and  deceptions  only, 
of  which  that  other  is  the  reality  or  true  principle  of  friendship. 
VOL.  I.  F 

66  L  YSIS. 

Let  me  put  the  matter  thus :  Suppose  the  case  of  a  great 
treasure  (this  may  be  a  son,  who  is  more  precious  to  his  father 
than  all  his  other  treasures) ;  would  not  the  father,  who  values 
his  son  above  all  things,  value  other  things  also  for  the  sake  of 
his  son?  I  mean,  for  instance,  if  he  knew  that  his  son  had 
drunk  hemlock,  and  the  father  thought  that  wine  would  save 
him,  he  would  value  the  wine? 


And  also  the  vessel  which  contains  the  wine  ? 


But  does  he  therefore  value  the  three  measures  of  wine,  or 
the  earthen  vessel  which  contains  them,  equally  with  his  son  ? 
Is  not  this  rather  the  true  state  of  the  case  ?  All  his  anxiety 
has  regard  not  to  the  means  which  are  provided  for  the  sake  220 
of  an  object,  but  to  the  object  for  the  sake  of  which  they  are 
provided.  And  although  we  may  often  say  that  gold  and  silver 
are  highly  valued  by  us,  that  is  not  the  truth  ;  for  the  truth  is 
that  there  is  a  further  object,  whatever  that  may  be,  which  we 
value  most  of  all,  and  for  the  sake  of  which  gold  and  all  our 
other  possessions  are  acquired  by  us.  Am  I  not  right  ? 

Yes,  certainly. 

And  may  not  the  same  be  said  of  the  friend  ?  That  which  is 
only  dear  to  us  for  the  sake  of  something  else  is  improperly 
said  to  be  dear,  but  the  truly  dear  is  that  in  which  all  these 
so-called  dear  friendships  terminate. 

That,  he  said,  appears  to  be  true. 

And  the  truly  clear  or  ultimate  principle  of  friendship  is  not 
for  the  sake  of  any  other  or  further  dear. 


\V      Then  we  have  done  with  the  notion  that  friendship  has  any 
further  object.    May  we  then  infer  that  the  good  is  the  friend  ? 

That  is  my  view. 

And  the  good  is  loved  for  the  sake  of  the  evil  ?  Let  me  put 
the  case  in  this  way  :  Suppose  that  of  the  three  principles, 
good,  evil,  and  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil,  there  re 
mained  only  the  good  and  the  neutral,  and  that  evil  went  far 
away,  and  in  no  way  affected  soul  or  body,  nor  ever  at  all  that 
class  of  things  which,  as  we  say,  are  neither  good  nor  evil  in 
themselves  ;— would  the  good  be  of  any  use,  or  other  than 

LYSIS.  67 

useless  to  us?  For  if  there  were  nothing  to  hurt  us  any  longer, 
we 'should  have  no  need  of  anything  that  would  do  us  good. 
Then  would  be  clearly  seen  that  we  did  but  love  and  desire 
the  good  because  of  the  evil,  and  as  the  remedy  of  the  evil, 
which  was  the  disease  ;  but  if  there  had  been  no  disease,  there 
would  have  been  no  need  of  a  remedy.  Is  not  this  the  nature 
of  the  good — to  be  loved  because  of  the  evil,  by  us  who  are 
between  the  two  ?  but  there  is  no  use  in  the  good  for  its  own 

I  suppose  that  you  are  right. 

Then  the  final  principle  of  friendship,  in  which  all  other 
friendships  which  are  relative  only,  were  supposed  by  us  to 
terminate,  is  of  another  and  a  different  nature  from  them. 
For  they  are  called  dear  because  of  another  dear  or  friend. 
But  with  the  true  friend  or  dear,  the  case  is  quite  the  reverse  ; 
for  that  is  proved  to  be  dear  because  of  the  hated,  and  if  the 
hated  were  away,  the  loved  would  no  longer  stay. 

That  is  true,  he  replied  :  at  least,  that  is  implied  in  the 

But,  oh !  will  you  tell  me,  I  said,  whether  if  evil  were  to 
perish,  we  should  hunger  any  more,  or  thirst  any  more,  or 
have  any  similar  desire  ?  Or  may  we  suppose  that  hunger  will 
remain  while  men  and  animals  remain,  but  not  so  as  to  be 
hurtful  ?  And  the  same  of  thirst  and  the  other  desires,— that 
they  will  remain,  but  will  not  be  evil  because  evil  has  perished  ? 
Or  rather  shall  I  say,  that  to  ask  what  either  will  be  then  or 
will  not  be  is  ridiculous,  for  who  knows  ?  This  we  do  know, 
that  in  our  present  condition  hunger  may  injure  us,  and  may 
also  benefit  us: — Is  not  that  true? 


And  in  like  manner  thirst  or  any  similar  desire  may  some 
times  be  a  good  and  sometimes  an  evil  to  us,  and  sometimes 
neither  one  nor  the  other  ? 

To  be  sure. 

But  is  there  any  reason  why,  because  evil  perishes,  that 
which  is  not  evil  should  also  perish  ? 


Then,  even  if  evil  perishes,  the  desires  which  are  neither 
good  nor  evil  will  remain  ? 

F  2 

68  L  YSIS. 

That  is  evident. 

And  must  not  a  man  love  that  which  he  desires  and  affects  ? 

He  must. 

Then,  even  if  evil  perishes,  there  may  still  remain  some 
elements  of  love  or  friendship  ? 


But  not  if  evil  is  the  cause  of  friendship  :  for  in  that  case 
nothing  will  be  the  friend  of  any  other  thing  after  the  de 
struction  of  evil ;  for  the  effect  cannot  remain  when  the  cause 
is  destroyed. 


And  have  we  not  admitted  already  that  the  friend  loves 
something  for  a  reason  ?  and  the  reason  then  given  was 
because  of  the  evil  which  leads  the  neither  good  nor  evil  to 
love  the  good  ? 

Very  true. 

But  now  our  view  is  changed,  and  there  must  be  some  other 
cause  of  friendship  ? 

I  suppose  that  there  must. 

May  not  the  truth  be  rather,  as  we  were  saying  just  now, 
that  desire  is  the  cause  of  friendship  ;  for  that  which  desires 
is  dear  to  that  which  is  desired  at  the  time  of  desire  ?  and 
may  not  the  other  theory  have  been  only  a  long  story  about 
nothing  ? 

That  is  possibly  true. 

But  surely,  I  said,  he  who  desires,  desires  that  of  which  he 
is  in  want  ? 


And  that  of  which  he  is  in  want  is  dear  to  him  ? 


And  he  is  in  want  of  that  of  which  he  is  deprived  ? 


Then  love,  and  desire,  and  friendship  would  appear  to  be  of 
the  natural  or  congenial.  That,  Lysis  and  Menexenus,  is  the 

They  assented. 

Then   if  you  are  friends,  you   must  have  natures  which  are 
congenial  to  one  another  ? 
Certainly,  they  both  said. 

L  YSIS.  69 

And    I   say,    my    boys,    that   no    one   who    loves    or   desires 
222  another  would  ever  have   loved  or    desired   or    affected  him,  if 
he  had  not  been  in   some  way  congenial  to   him,  either  in  his 
soul,   or  in  his  character,   or   in  his   manners,  or  in  his  form. 

Yes,  yes,  said  Menexenus.     But  Lysis  was  silent. 

Then,  I  said,  the  conclusion  is,  that  what  is  of  a  congenial 
nature  must  be  loved. 

That  follows,  he  said. 

Then  the  lover,  who  is  true  and  no  counterfeit,  must  of 
necessity  be  loved  by  his  love. 

Lysis  and  Menexenus  gave  a  faint  assent  to  this  ;  and  Hip- 
pothales  changed  into  all  manner  of  colours  with  delight. 

Here,  intending  to  revise  the  argument,  I  said :  Can  we  \ 
point  out  any  difference  between  the  congenial  and  the  like  ? 
For  if  that  is  possible,  then  I  think,  Lysis  and  Menexenus, 
there  may  be  some  sense  in  our  argument  about  friendship. 
But  if  the  congenial  is  only  the  like,  how  will  you  get  rid  of 
the  other  argument,  of  the  uselessness  of  like  to  like  in  as  far 
as  they  are  like  ;  for  to  say  that  what  is  useless  is  dear,  would 
be  absurd  ?  Suppose,  then,  that  we  agree  to  distinguish  between 
the  congenial  and  the  like — in  the  intoxication  of  argument, 
that  may  perhaps  be  allowed. 

Very  true. 

And  shall  we  further  say  that  the  good  is  congenial,  and  the 
evil  uncongenial  to  every  one?  Or  again  that  the  evil  is  con 
genial  to  the  evil,  and  the  good  to  the  good  ;  and  that  which 
is  neither  good  nor  evil  to  that  which  is  neither  good  nor  evil  ? 

They  agreed  to  the  latter  alternative. 

Then,  my  boys,  we  have  again  fallen  into  the  old  discarded 
error  ;  for  the  unjust  will  be  the  friend  of  the  unjust,  and  the 
bad  of  the  bad,  as  well  as  the  good  of  the  good. 

That  appears  to  be  true. 

But  again  if  we  say  that  the  congenial  is  the  same  as  the 
good,  in  that  case  the  good  will  only  be  the  friend  of  the  good. 


But  that  too  was  a  position  of  ours  which,  as  you  will  re 
member,  has  been  already  refuted  by  ourselves. 

We  remember. 

Then  what  is  to  be  done  ?      Or  rather  is  there  anything  to 

70  L  YSIS. 

be  done?  I  can  only,  like  the  wise  men  who  argue  in  courts, 
sum  up  the  arguments :— If  neither  the  beloved,  nor  the  lover, 
nor  the  like,  nor  the  unlike,  nor  the  good,  nor  the  congenial, 
nor  any  other  of  whom  we  spoke — Tor  there  were  such  a 
number  of  them  that  I  cannot  remember  them— if,  I  say,  none 
of  these  are  friends,  I  know  not  what  remains  to  be  said. 

Here  I  was  going  to  invite  the  opinion  of  some  older  person,  223 
when  suddenly  we  were  interrupted  by  the  tutors  of  Lysis  and 
Menexenus,  who  came  upon  us  like  an  evil  apparition  with 
their  brothers,  and  bade  them  go  home,  as  it  was  getting  late. 
At  first,  we  and  the  by-standers  drove  them  off;  but  after 
wards,  as  they  would  not  mind,  and  only  went  on  shouting  in 
their  barbarous  dialect,  and  got  angry,  and  kept  calling  the 
boys— they  appeared  to  us  to  have  been  drinking  rather  too 
much  at  the  Hermaea,  which  made  them  difficult  to  manage 
—we  fairly  gave  way  and  broke  up  the  company. 

I  said,  however,  a  few  words  to  the  boys  at  parting  :  O 
Menexenus  and  Lysis,  how  ridiculous  that  you  two  boys,  and 
I,  an  old  boy,  who  would  fain  be  one  of  you,  should  imagine 
ourselves  to  be  friends— this  is  what  the  by-standers  wilf  go 
away  and  say— and  as  yet  we  have  not  been  able  to  discover 
what  is  a  friend ! 



LYSIMACHUS,  the  son  of  Aristides  the  Just,  and  Melesias,  the  son  of 
the  elder  Thucydides,  two  aged  men  who  live  together,  are  desirous 
of  educating  their  sons  in  the  best  manner.  Their  own  education, 
as  often  happens  with  the  sons  of  great  men,  has  been  neglected ; 
and  they  are  resolved  that  their  children  shall  have  more  care  taken 
of  them,  than  they  received  themselves  at  the  hands  of  their  fathers. 

At  their  request,  Nicias  and  Laches  have  accompanied  them  to 
see  a  man  named  Stesilaus  fighting  in  heavy  armour.  The  two 
fathers  ask  the  two  generals  what  they  think  of  this  exhibition, 
and  whether  they  would  advise  that  their  sons  should  acquire  the  ac 
complishment.  Nicias  and  Laches  are  quite  willing  to  give  their 
opinion ;  but  they  suggest  that  Socrates  should  be  invited  to  take 
part  in  the  consultation.  He  is  a  stranger  to  Lysimachus,  but  is 
afterwards  recognised  as  the  son  of  his  old  friend  Sophroniscus,  with 
whom  he  never  had  a  difference  to  the  hour  of  his  death.  Socrates 
is  also  known  to  Nicias,  to  whom  he  had  introduced  the  excellent 
Damon,  musician  and  sophist,  as  a  tutor  for  his  son,  and  to  Laches, 
who  had  witnessed  his  heroic  behaviour  at  the  battle  of  Delium  (cp. 
Symp.  221). 

Socrates,  as  he  is  younger  than  either  Nicias  or  Laches,  prefers  to 
wait  until  they  have  delivered  their  opinions,  which  they  give  in  a 
characteristic  manner.  Nicias,  the  tactician,  is  very  much  in  favour 
of  the  new  art,  which  he  describes  as  the  gymnastics  of  war — useful 
when  the  ranks  are  formed,  and  still  more  useful  when  they  are 
broken;  creating  a  general  interest  in  military  studies,  and  greatly 
adding  to  the  appearance  of  the  soldier  in  the  field.  Laches,  the 
blunt  warrior,  is  of  opinion  that  such  an  art  is  not  knowledge,  and 

74  LACHES. 

cannot  be  of  any  value,  because  the  Lacedaemonians,  those  great 
masters  of  arms,  neglect  it.  His  own  experience  in  actual  service 
has  taught  him  that  these  pretenders  are  useless  and  ridiculous. 
This  man  Stesilaus  has  been  seen  by  him  on  board  ship  making  a 
very  sorry  exhibition  of  himself.  The  possession  of  the  art  will 
make  the  coward  rash,  and  subject  the  courageous,  if  he  chance  to 
make  a  slip,  to  invidious  remarks.  And  now  let  Socrates  be  taken 
into  counsel.  As  they  differ  he  must  decide. 

Socrates  would  rather  not  decide  the  question  by  a  plurality  of 
votes :  in  such  a  serious  matter  as  the  education  of  a  friend's  children, 
he  would  consult  the  one  skilled  person  who  has  had  masters,  and 
has  works  to  show  as  evidences  of  his  skill.  This  is  not  himself;  for 
he  has  never  been  able  to  pay  the  sophists  for  instructing  him,  and 
has  never  had  the  wit  to  do  or  discover  anything.  But  Nicias  and 
Laches  are  older  and  richer  than  he  is:  they  have  had  teachers,  and 
perhaps  have  made  discoveries;  and  he  would  have  trusted  them 
entirely,  if  they  had  not  been  diametrically  opposed. 

Lysimachus  here  proposes  to  resign  the  argument  into  the  hands 
of  the  younger  part  of  the  company,  as  he  is  old,  and  has  a  bad 
memory.  He  earnestly  requests  Socrates  to  remain;— in  this  showing, 
as  Nicias  says,  how  little  he  knows  the  man,  who  will  certainly  not 
go  away  until  he  has  cross-examined  the  company  about  their  past 
lives.  Nicias  has  often  submitted  to  this  process;  and  Laches  is 
quite  willing  to  learn  from  Socrates,  because  his  actions,  in  the  true 
Dorian  mode,  correspond  to  his  words. 

Socrates  proceeds  :  We  might  ask  who  are  our  teachers  ?  But  a 
better  and  more  thorough  way  of  examining  the  question  will  be  to 
ask,  '  What  is  Virtue  ?' — or  rather,  to  restrict  the  enquiry  to  that  part 
of  virtue  which  is  concerned  with  the  use  of  weapons— <  What  is 
Courage?'  Laches  thinks  that  he  knows  this:  (i)  'He  is  courageous 
who  remains  at  his  post/  But  some  nations  fight  flying,  after  the 
manner  of  Aeneas  in  Homer;  or  as  the  heavy-armed  Spartans  also 
did  at  the  battle  of  Plataea.  (2)  Socrates  wants  a  more  general 
definition,  not  only  of  military  courage,  but  of  courage  of  all  sorts, 
tried  both  amid  pleasures  and  pains.  Laches  replies  that  this  univer 
sal  courage  is  endurance.  But  courage  is  a  good  thing,  and  mere 
endurance  may  be  hurtful  and  injurious.  Therefore  (3)  the  element 
of  intelligence  must  be  added.  But  then  again  unintelligent  endur- 



ance  may  often  be  more  courageous  than  the  intelligent,  the  bad 
than  the  good.  How  is  this  contradiction  to  be  solved  ?  Socrates 
and  Laches  are  not  set  '  to  the  Dorian  mode '  of  words  and  actions ; 
for  their  words  are  all  confusion,  although  their  actions  are  courageous. 
Still  they  must  '  endure '  in  an  argument  about  endurance.  Laches 
is  very  willing,  and  is  quite  sure  that  he  knows  what  courage  is,  if  he 
could  only  tell. 

Nicias  is  now  appealed  to;  and  in  reply  he  oilers  a  definition  which 
he  has  heard  from  Socrates  himself,  to  the  effect  that  (i)  'Courage 
is  intelligence.'  Laches  derides  this;  and  Socrates  enquires,  'What 
sort  of  intelligence?'  to  which  Nicias  replies,  'Intelligence  of  things 
terrible.'  '  But  every  man  knows  the  things  to  be  dreaded  in  his 
own  art.'  '  No  they  do  not.  They  may  predict  results,  but  cannot 
tell  whether  they  are  really  terrible;  only  the  courageous  man  can  do 
that.'  Laches  draws  the  inference  that  the  courageous  man  is  either 
a  soothsayer  or  a  god. 

Again,  (2)  in  Nicias'  way  of  speaking,  the  term  '  courageous '  must  be 
denied  to  animals  or  children,  because  they  do  not  know  the  danger. 
Against  this  inversion  of  the  ordinary  use  of  language  Laches  re 
claims,  but  is  in  some  degree  mollified  by  a  compliment  to  his  own 
courage.  Still,  he  does  not  like  to  see  an  Athenian  statesman  and 
general  descending  to  sophistries  of  this  sort.  Socrates  resumes  the 
argument.  Courage  has  been  defined  to  be  intelligence  or  know 
ledge  of  the  terrible  ;  and  courage  is  not  all  virtue,  but  only  one  of 
the  virtues.  The  terrible  is  in  the  future,  and  therefore  the  know 
ledge  of  the  terrible  is  a  knowledge  of  the  future.  But  there  can  be 
no  knowledge  of  future  good  or  evil  separated  from  a  knowledge  of 
the  good  and  evil  of  the  past  or  present;  that  is  to  say,  of  all  good 
and  evil.  Courage,  therefore,  is  the  knowledge  of  good  and  evil 
generally.  But  he  who  has  the  knowledge  of  good  and  evil  gene 
rally,  must  not  only  have  courage,  but  also  temperance,  justice,  and 
every  other  virtue.  Thus,  a  single  virtue  would  be  the  same  as  all 
virtues  (cp.  Protagoras,  350  folk).  And  after  all  the  two  generals, 
and  Socrates,  the  hero  of  Delium,  are  still  in  ignorance  of  the  nature 
of  courage.  They  must  go  to  school  again,  boys,  old  men  and  all. 

Some  points  of  resemblance,  and  some  points  of  difference,  appear 
in  the  Laches  when  compared  with  the  Charmidcs  and  Lysis.  There 
is  less  of  poetical  and  simple  beauty,  and  more  of  dramatic  interest 

76  LACHES. 

and  power.  They  are  richer  in  the  externals  of  the  scene;  the 
Laches  has  more  play  and  development  of  character.  In  the  Lysis 
and  Charmides  the  youths  are  the  central  figures,  and  frequent  allu 
sions  are  made  to  the  place  of  meeting,  which  is  a  palaestra.  Here 
the  place  of  meeting,  which  is  also  a  palaestra,  is  quite  forgotten,  and 
the  boys  play  a  subordinate  part.  The  seance  is  of  old  and  elder  men, 
of  whom  Socrates  is  the  youngest. 

First  is  the  aged  Lysimachus,  who  may  be  compared  with  Cephalus 
in  the  Republic,  and,  like  him,  withdraws  from  the  argument.    Mele- 
sias,   who   is   only  his   shadow,   also    subsides   into    silence.      Both  of 
them,   by   their  own   confession,   have  been  ill-educated,   as  is   further 
shown  by  the   circumstance   that  Lysimachus,  the  friend  of  Sophron- 
iscus,  has  never  heard  of  the  fame  of  Socrates,  his  son ;  they  belong 
to  different  circles.      In  the  Meno  (p.  94)  their  want  of  education  in 
all  but  the   arts   of  riding  and  wrestling  is   adduced  as   a  proof  that 
virtue  cannot  be  taught.     The  recognition  of  Socrates  by  Lysimachus 
is  extremely  graceful ;   and  his  military  exploits  naturally  connect  him 
with  the  two  generals,  of  whom  one  has  witnessed  them.    The  characters 
of  Nicias  and  Laches  are  indicated  by  their  opinions  on  the  exhibition  of 
the  man  fighting  in  heavy  armour.      The  more  enlightened  Nicias  is 
quite  ready  to  accept  the  new  art,  which  Laches   treats  with  ridicule, 
seeming   to   think   that    this,   or   any  other   military   question,   may  be 
settled  by    asking,    'What   do    the    Lacedaemonians    say?'      The    one 
is  the  thoughtful  general,  willing  to   avail  himself  of  any  discovery  in 
the  art  of  war  (Aristoph.  Aves,   363) ;   the   other  is  the   practical  man, 
who  relies  on  his  own  experience,  and  is  the  enemy  of  innovation ;   he 
can  act  but   cannot  speak,  and  is   apt   to   lose   his   temper.     It  is  to 
be   noted  that  one  of  them  is  supposed  to  be  a  hearer  of  Socrates; 
the  other  is  only  acquainted  with  his  actions.     Laches  is  the  admirer 
of  the  Dorian  mode ;  and  into  his  mouth  the  remark  is  put  that  there 
are  some  persons  who,  never  having  been  taught,  are  better  than  those 
who  have.     Like  a  novice  in  the  art  of  disputation,  he  is  delighted  with 
the  hits  of  Socrates ;  and  is  disposed  to  be  angry  with  the  refinements  of 

In  the  discussion  of  the  main  thesis  of  the  Dialogue — '  What  is 
Courage?'  the  antagonism  of  the  two  characters  is  still  more  clearly 
brought  out;  and  in  this,  as  in  the  preliminary  question,  the  truth  is 
parted  between  them.  Gradually,  and  not  without  difficulty,  Laches  is 


made  to  pass  on  from  the  more  popular  to  the  more  philosophical ; 
it  has  never  occurred  to  him  that  there  was  any  other  courage  than 
that  of  the  soldier;  and  only  by  an  effort  of  the  mind  can  he  frame 
a  general  notion  at  all.  No  sooner  has  this  general  notion  been 
formed  than  it  evanesces  before  the  dialectic  of  Socrates ;  and  Nicias 
appears  from  the  other  side  with  the  Socratic  doctrine,  that  courage 
is  knowledge.  This  is  explained  to  mean  knowledge  of  things 
terrible  in  the  future.  But  Socrates  denies  that  the  knowledge  of  the 
future  is  separable  from  that  of  the  past  and  present ;  in  other  words, 
true  knowledge  is  not  that  of  the  soothsayer  but  of  the  philosopher. 
And  all  knowledge  will  thus  be  equivalent  to  all  virtue — a  position 
which  elsewhere  Socrates  is  not  unwilling  to  admit,  but  which  will 
not  assist  us  in  distinguishing  the  nature  of  courage.  In  this  part 
of  the  Dialogue  the  contrast  between  the  mode  of  cross-examination 
which  is  practised  by  Laches  and  by  Socrates,  and  also  the  manner  in 
which  the  definition  of  Laches  is  made  to  approximate  to  that  of 
Nicias,  are  worthy  of  attention. 

Thus,  with  some  intimation  of  the  connexion  and  unity  of  virtue 
and  knowledge,  we  arrive  at  no  distinct  result.  The  two  aspects  of 
courage  are  never  harmonized.  The  knowledge  which  in  the  Prota 
goras  is  explained  as  the  faculty  of  estimating  pleasures  and  pains  is 
here  lost  in  an  unmeaning  and  transcendental  conception.  Yet  several 
true  intimations  of  the  nature  of  courage  are  allowed  to  appear:  (i) 
That  courage  is  moral  as  well  as  physical :  (2)  That  true  courage 
is  inseparable  from  knowledge,  and  yet  (3)  is  based  on  a  sort  of 
natural  instinct.  Laches  exhibits  one  aspect  of  courage ;  Nicias  the 
other.  The  perfect  image  and  harmony  of  both  is  only  realized  in 
Socrates  himself. 

The  Dialogue  offers  one  among  many  examples  of  the  freedom 
with  which  Plato  treats  facts.  For  the  scene  must  be  supposed  to 
have  occurred  between  B.C.  424,  the  year  of  the  Battle  of  Delium 
(181  B),  and  B.C.  414,  the  year  of  the  Battle  of  Mantinea,  at  which 
Laches  fell.  But  if  Socrates  was  more  than  seventy  years  of  age  at 
his  trial  in  399  (see  Apology),  he  could  not  have  been  a  young  man 
at  any  time  after  the  battle  of  Delium. 



LYSIMACHUS,  son  of  Aristides.  NlCIAS. 

MELESIAS,  son  of  Ibucydides.  LACHES. 


stcph.  Lys.  You  have  seen  the  exhibition  of  the  man  fighting  in 
J78  armour,  Nicias  and  Laches,  but  we  did  not  tell  you  at  the 
time  the  reason  why  my  friend  Melesias  and  I  asked  you  to 
go  with  us  and  see  him.  I  think  that  we  may  as  well  confess 
this,  for  we  certainly  ought  not  to  have  any  reserve  with  you. 
The  reason  was,  that  we  were  intending  to  ask  your  advice. 
Some  laugh  at  the  very  notion  of  advising  others,  and  when 
they  are  asked  will  not  say  what  they  think.  They  guess  at 
the  wishes  of  the  person  who  asks  them,  and  answer  according 
to  his,  and  not  according  to  their  own,  opinion.  But  as  we 
know  that  you  are  good  judges,  and  will  say  exactly  what 
you  think,  we  have  taken  you  into  our  counsels.  The  matter 
about  which  I  am  making  all  this  preface  is  as  follows  :  Melesias 
and  I  have  two  sons  ;  that  is  his  son,  and  he  is  named  Thucy- 
179  elides,  after  his  grandfather;  and  this  is  mine,  who  is  also 
called  after  his  grandfather,  Aristides.  Now,  we  are  resolved 
to  take  the  greatest  care  of  the  youths,  and  not  to  let  them  run 
about  as  they  like,  which  is  too  often  the  way  with  the  young, 
when  they  are  no  longer  children,  but  to  begin  at  once  and  do 
the  utmost  that  we  can  for  them.  And  knowing  that  you 
have  sons  of  your  own,  we  thought  that  you  were  most  likely 
to  have  attended  to  their  training  and  improvement,  and,  if 
you  have  not  attended  to  them,  we  may  remind  you  that  you 

8o  LACHES. 

ought  to  have  done  so,  and  would  invite  you  to  assist  us  in 
the  fulfilment  of  a  common  duty.  I  will  tell  you,  Nicias  and 
Laches,  even  at  the  risk  of  being  tedious,  how  we  came  to 
think  of  this.  Melcsias  and  I  live  together,  and  our  two  sons 
live  with  us;  and  now,  as  I  was  saying  at  first,  we  are  going 
to  confess  to  you.  Both  of  us  often  talk  to  the  lads  about  the 
many  noble  deeds  which  our  own  fathers  did  in  war  and 
peace — in  the  management  of  the  allies,  and  in  the  adminstra- 
tion  of  the  city;  but  neither  of  us  has  any  deeds  of  his  own  which 
he  can  show.  Now  we  are  somewhat  ashamed  of  this  contrast 
being  seen  by  them,  and  we  blame  our  fathers  for  letting  us 
be  spoiled  in  the  days  of  our  youth,  while  they  were  occupied 
with  the  concerns  of  others  ;  and  we  urge  all  this  upon  the 
lads,  pointing  out  to  them  that  they  will  not  grow  up  to  honour 
if  they  are  rebellious  and  take  no  pains  about  themselves ; 
but  that  if  they  take  pains  they  may,  perhaps,  become  worthy 
of  the  names  which  they  bear.  They,  on  their  part,  promise 
to  comply  with  our  wishes;  and  our  care  is  to  discover  what 
studies  or  pursuits  are  likely  to  be  most  improving  to  them. 
Some  one  commended  to  us  the  art  of  using  weapons,  which 
he  thought  an  excellent  accomplishment  for  a  young  man  to 
learn  ;  and  he  praised  the  man  whose  exhibition  you  have  seen, 
and  told  us  to  go  and  see  him.  And  we  determined  that  we , 
would  go,  and  get  you  to  accompany  us  ;  and  we  were  intend 
ing  at  the  same  time,  if  you  did  not  object,  to  take  counsel 
with  you  about  the  education  of  our  sons.  That  is  the  matter 
which  we  wanted  to  talk  over  with  you  ;  and  we  hope  that  you 
will  give  us  your  opinion  about  this  art  of  fighting  in  armour,  180 
and  about  any  other  studies  or  pursuits  which  may  or  may  not 
be  desirable  for  a  young  man  to  learn.  Please  to  say  whether 
you  agree  to  our  proposal. 

NIC.  As  far  as  I  am  concerned,  Lysimachus  and  Melesias,  I 
applaud  your  purpose,  and  will  gladly  assist  you  ;  and  I  believe 
that  you,  Laches,  will  be  equally  glad. 

La.  Certainly,  Nicias ;  and  I  quite  approve  of  the  remark 
which  Lysimachus  made  about  his  own  father  and  the  father 
of  Melesias,  and  which  is  applicable,  not  only  to  them,  but  to 
us,  and  to  every  one  who  is  occupied  with  public  affairs.  As 
he  says,  they  are  too  apt  to  be  negligent  and  careless  of  their 

LACHES.  8 1 

own  children  and  their  private  concerns.  There  is  much  truth 
in  that  remark  of  yours,  Lysimachus.  But  why,  instead  of 
consulting  us,  do  you  not  consult  our  friend  Socrates  about 
the  education  of  the  youths?  He  is  of  the  same  deme  with 
you,  and  is  always  passing  his  time  in  places  in  which  the 
youth  have  any  noble  study  or  pursuit,  such  as  you  are  en 
quiring  after. 

Lys.  Why,  Laches,  has  Socrates  ever  attended  to  matters  of 
this  sort? 

La.  Certainly,  Lysimachus. 

NIC.  That  I  have  the  means  of  knowing  as  well  as  Laches  ; 
for  quite  lately  he  supplied  me  with  a  teacher  of  music  for  my 
sons, — Damon,  the  disciple  of  Agathocles,  who  is  a  most  ac 
complished  man  in  every  way,  as  well  as  a  musician,  and  a 
companion  of  inestimable  value  for  young  men  at  their  age. 

Lys.  Those  who  have  reached  my  time  of  life,  Socrates  and 
Nicias  and  Laches,  fall  out  of  acquaintance  ^ith  the  young,  be 
cause  they  are  generally  detained  at  home  by  old  age ;  but  I 
hope  that  you,  O  son  of  Sophroniscus,  will  let  your  fellow  demes- 
men  have  the  benefit  of  any  advice  which  you  are  able  to  give 
them.  And  I  have  a  claim  upon  you  as  an  old  friend  of  your 
father ;  for  I  and  he  were  always  companions  and  friends,  and 
to  the  hour  of  his  death  there  never  was  a  difference  between 
us ;  and  now  it  comes  back  to  me,  at  the  mention  of  your 
name,  that  I  have  heard  these  lads  talking  to  one  another  at 
181  home,  and  often  speaking  of  Socrates  in  terms  of  the  highest 
praise ;  but  I  have  never  thought  to  ask  them  whether  the  son 
of  Sophroniscus  was  the  person  whom  they  meant.  Tell  me, 
my  boy,  whether  this  is  the  Socrates  of  whom  you  have  often 
spoken  ? 

Son.  Certainly,  father,  this  is  he. 

Lys.  I  am  delighted  to  hear,  Socrates,  that  you  maintain  the 
name  of  your  father,  who  was  a  most  excellent  man  ;  and  I 
further  rejoice  at  the  prospect  of  our  family  ties  being  renewed. 

La.  Indeed,  Lysimachus,  you  ought  not  to  give  him  up ;  for 
I  can  assure  you  that  I  have  seen  him  maintaining,  not  only 
his  father's,  but  also  his  country's  name.  He  was  my  companion 
in  the  retreat  from  Delium,  and  I  can  tell  you  that  if  others 
had  only  been  like  him,  the  honour  of  our  country  would 

VOL.  I.  G 

82  LACHES. 

have  been  maintained,  and  the  great  defeat  would  never  have 

Lys.  That  is  very  high  praise  which  is  given  to  you,  Socrates, 
by  faithful  witnesses  and  for  actions  like  these.  And  let  me 
tell  you  the  pleasure  which  I  feel  in  hearing  of  your  fame ;  and 
I  hope  that  you  will  regard  me  as  one  of  your  best  friends ; 
indeed  you  ought  to  have  visited  us  long  ago,  and  reckoned  us 
among  your  friends  ;  but  now,  from  this  day  forward,  as  we 
have  at  last  found  one  another  out,  do  as  I  say— come  and 
make  acquaintance  with  me,  and  with  these  young  men,  that 
I  may  continue  your  friend,  as  I  was  your  father's.  I  shall 
expect  you  to  do  this,  and  shall  venture  to  remind  you.  But 
what  say  you  of  the  matter  of  which  we  were  beginning  to 
Speak_the  art  of  fighting  in  armour?  Is  that  a  practice  in 
which  the  lads  may  be  advantageously  instructed? 

Soc.  I  will  endeavour  to  advise  you,  Lysimachus,  as  far  as  I 
can  in  this  matter,  and  also  in  every  way  will  comply  with 
your  wishes;  but  as  I  am  younger  and  not  so  experienced,  I 
think  that  I  ought  Certainly  to  hear  first  what  my  elders  have 
to  say,  and  to  lean?  of  them,  and  if  I  have  anything  to  add, 
then  I  may  venture*  to  give  my  opinion  to  them  as  well  as  to 
you.  Suppose,  Niqas,  that  one  of  you  speaks  first. 

Nic.  I  have  no  objection,  Socrates  ;  and  my  opinion  is  that 
the  acquirement  of  this  art  is  in  many  ways  useful  to  young 
men.  There  is  an  advantage  in  their  being  employed  during 
their  leisure  hours  in  a  way  which  tends  to  improve  their  182 
bodily  constitution,  and  not  in  the  way  in  which  young  men 
are  too  apt  to  be  employed.  No  gymnastics  could  be  better 
or  harder  exercise ;  and  this,  and  the  art  of  riding,  are  of  all 
arts  most  befitting  to  a  freeman  ;  for  they  only  who  are  thus 
trained  in  the  use  of  arms  are  the  athletes  of  our  military  pro 
fession,  trained  in  that  on  which  the  conflict  turns.  More 
over  in  actual  battle,  when  you  have  to  fight  in  a  line  with 
a  number  of  others,  this  sort  of  acquirement  will  be  of  some 
use,  and  will  be  of  the  greatest,  when  the  ranks  are  broken  and 
you  have  to  fight  singly;  either  in  pursuit,  when  you  are 
attacking  some  one  who  is  defending  himself,  or  in  flight, 
when  you  have  to  defend  yourself  against  an  assailant.  Cer 
tainly  he  who  possessed  the  art  could  not  meet  with  any  harm 

LACHES.  83 

at  the  hands  of  a  single  person,  or  perhaps  of  several  ;  and  in 
any  case  he  would  have  a  great  advantage.  Further,  this  sort 
of  skill  inclines  a  man  to  other  noble  lessons  ;  for  every  man 
who  has  learned  how  to  fight  in  arms  will  desire  to  learn  the 
proper  arrangement  of  an  army,  which  is  the  sequel  of  the 
lesson :  and  when  he  has  learned  this,  and  his  ambition  is  once 
fired,  he  will  go  on  to  learn  the  complete  art  of  the  general. 
There  is  no  difficulty  in  seeing  that  the  knowledge  and  prac 
tice  of  other  military  arts  will  be  useful  and  valuable  to  a  man ; 
and  this  lesson  may  be  the  beginning  of  them.  Let  me  add  a 
further  advantage,  which  is  by  no  means  a  slight  one, — that 
this  science  will  make  any  man  a  great  deal  more  valiant  and 
self-possessed  in  the  field.  And  I  will  not  disdain  to  mention, 
what  to  some  may  appear  to  be  a  small  matter,  that  he  will 
make  a  better  appearance  at  the  right  time  ;  that  is  to  say,  at 
the  time  when  his  appearance  will  strike  terror  into  his  enemies. 
My  opinion  then,  Lysimachus,  is,  as  I  say,  that  the  youths 
should  be  instructed  in  this  art,  and  for  the  reasons  which  I 
have  given.  ,)But  I  shall  be  very  glad  to  hear  Laches,  if  he 
has  another  view. 

La.  I  should  not  like  to  say,  Nicias,  that  any  kind  of  know 
ledge  is  not  to  be  learned  ;  for  all  knowledge  appears  to  be  a 
good  :  and  if,  as  Nicias  and  as  the  teachers  of  the  art  affirm, 
this  use  of  arms  is  really  a  species  of  knowledge,  then  it  ought 
to  be  learned  ;  but  if  not,  and  if  those  who  profess  to  teach  it 
are  deceivers  only  ;  or  if  it  be  knowledge,  but  not  of  a  valu 
able  sort,  then  what  is  the  use  of  learning  it?  I  say  this, 
183  because  I  think  that  if  it  had  been  really  valuable,  the  Lace 
daemonians,  whose  whole  life  is  passed  in  finding  out  and 
practising  the  arts  which  give  them  an  advantage  over  other 
nations  in  war,  would  have  discovered  this  one.  And  even  if 
they  had  not,  still  these  professors  of  the  art  would  certainly 
not  have  failed  to  discover  that  of  all  the  Hellenes  the  Lace 
daemonians  have  the  greatest  interest  in  such  matters,  and 
that  a  master  of  the  art  who  was  honoured  among  them  would 
\  have  been;  sure  to  have  made  his  fortune  among  other  nations, 
just  as  a  tragic  poet  would  who  is  honoured  among  ourselves; 
which  is  the  reason  why  he  who  fancies  that  he  can  write  a 
tragedy  does  not  go  about  itinerating  in  the  neighbouring 

G  2 

84  LACHES. 

states,  but  rushes  hither  straight,  and  exhibits  at  Athens ;  and 
this    is    natural.      Whereas    I   perceive   that   these    fighters    in 
armour   regard    Lacedaemon   as   a   sacred    inviolable    territory, 
which  they  do  not  touch  with  the  point  of  their  foot ;  but  they 
make  a  circuit  of  the  neighbouring  states,   and   would   rather 
exhibit  to  any  others  than  to  the  Spartans  ;  and  particularly  to 
those  who  would  themselves  acknowledge  that  they  are  by  no 
means  firstrate  in  the  arts  of  war.    Further,  Lysimachus,  I  have 
encountered  a  good  many  of  these  gentlemen  in  actual  service, 
and  have  taken  their  measure,  which  I  can  give  you  at  once; 
for  none  of  these  masters  of  fence  have  ever  been  distinguished 
in  war,— ^there  has  been  a  sort   of  fatality  about   thern^  while 
'  in  all  other  arts  the  men  of  note  have  been  always  those  who 
have  practised  the  art,  these  appear  to  be  a  most  unfortunate 
exception.     For  example,  this  very  Stesilaus,  whom  you  and  I 
have  just  witnessed  exhibiting  in  all  that   crowd   and   making 
such  great  professions  of  his   powers,  I   have   seen   at   another 
time  making,  in  sobH  truth,  an  involuntary  exhibition  of  him 
self,  which  was  a  far  better  spectacle.       He  was  a   marine  on 
board  a  ship  which  struck  a  transport  vessel,  and  was  armed 
with  a  weapon,  half  spear,  half  scythe,  the  singularity  of  which 
was  worthy  of  the  singularity  of  the  man.       To  make  a  long 
story  short,  I  will  only  tell  you  what  happened  to  this  notable 
invention  of  the  scythe-spear.    He  was  fighting,  and  the  scythe 
end  caught  in  the  rigging  of  the   other   ship,   and   stuck    fast ; 
and  he  tugged,  but  was  unable  to  get  his  weapon  free.      The 
two  ships  were  passing  one  another.       He  first  ran  along   his 
own  ship  holding  on  to  the  spear ;  but  as  the  other  ship  passed 
by  and  drew  him  after  as  he  was  holding  on,  he  let  the  spear 
slip  through  his  hand  until  he  retained   only   the   end   of  the  184 
handle.     The  people  in  the  transport  clapped  their  hands,  and 
laughed  at  his  ridiculous  figure ;  and  when  some  one  threw  a 
stone,  which  fell  on  the  deck  at  his   feet,  and   he   quitted   his 
hold   of  the   scythe-spear,   the   crew   of  his    own   trireme   also 
burst  out  laughing ;  they  could  not    refrain  when   they  beheld 
the  weapon  waving  in  the  air,  suspended   from    the   transport. 
Now  I  do  not  deny  that  there  may  be  something  in  such  an 
art,  as  Nicias  asserts,  but  I  tell  you  my  experience ;  and,  as  I 
said  at  first,  whether  this  be  an  art  of  which  the  advantage  is 

LACHES.  85 

so  slight,  or  not  an  art  at  all,  but  only  an  imposition,  in 
either  case  there  is  no  use  in  such  an  acquirement.  For  my 
opinion  is,  that  if  the  professor  of  this  art  be  a  coward,  he  will 
be  likely  to  become  rash,  and  his  character  will  be  only  more 
notorious  ;  or  if  he  be  brave,  and  fail  ever  so  little,  other  men 
will  be  on  the  watch,  and  he  will  be  greatly  traduced  ;  for 
there  is  a  jealousy  of  such  pretenders  ;  and  unless  a  man  be 
pre-eminent  in  valour,  he  cannot  help  being  ridiculous,  if  he 
says  that  he  has  this  skill  in  weapons.  Such  is  my  judgment, 
Lysimachus,  of  the  desirableness  of  this  art ;  but,  as  I  said  at 
first,  ask  Socrates,  and  do  not  let  him  go  until  he  has  given 
you  his  opinion  of  the  matter. 

Lys.  I  am  going  to  ask  this  favour  of  you,  Socrates  ;  as  is 
the  more  necessary  because  the  two  councillors  disagree,  and 
some  one  is  needed  to  decide  between  them.  Had  they 
agreed,  this  might  not  have  been  required.  But  as  Laches 
has  voted  one  way  and  Nicias  another,  I  should  like  to  hear 
with  which  of  our  two  friends  you  agree. 

Soc.  What,  Lysimachus,  are  you  going  to  accept  the  opinion 
of  the  majority  ? 

Lys.  Why,  yes,  Socrates  ;  what  other  way  is  there  ? 

Soc.  And  would  you  agree  in  that,  Melesias  ?  If  you  were 
deliberating  about  the  gymnastic  training  of  your  son,  would 
you  follow  the  advice  of  the  majority  of  us,  or  the  opinion  of 
the  one  who  had  been  trained  and  exercised  under  a  skilful 
master  ? 

Mel.  I  should  take  the  advice  of  the  latter,  Socrates ;  as 
would  be  reasonable. 

Soc.  His  one  vote  would  be  worth  more  than  the  vote  of  all 
us  four  ? 

Mel.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  for  this  reason,  as  I  imagine, — because  a  good 
decision  is  based  on  knowledge  and  not  on  numbers  ? 

Mel.  To  be  sure. 

185  Soc.  Must  we  not  then  first  of  all  ask,  whether  there  is  any 
one  of  us  who  has  knowledge  in  that  about  which  we  are  de 
liberating  ?  If  there  is,  let  us  take  his  advice,  though  he  be 
one  only,  and  not  mind  the  others  ;  if  there  is  not,  let  us  seek 
further  counsel.  Is  this  a  slight  matter  about  which  you  and 

86  LACHES. 

Lysimachus  are  deliberating  ?  Are  you  not  risking  the  greatest 
of  your  possessions  ?  For  children  are  your  riches  ;  and  upon 
their  turning  out  well  or  ill  depends  the  whole  order  of  their 
father's  house. 

Mel.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  Great  care,  then,  is  required  in  the  matter? 

Mel.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Suppose,  as  I  was  just  now  saying,  that  we  were  con 
sidering,  or  wanting  to  consider,  who  was  the  best  trainer. 
Should  we  not  decide  in  his  favour  who  knew  and  had  prac 
tised  the  art,  and  had  the  best  teachers  ? 

Mel.  I  think  that  we  should. 

Soc.  But  would  there  not  arise  a  prior  question  about  the 
nature  of  the  art  of  which  we  want  to  find  the  masters  ? 

Mel.  I  do  not  understand. 

Soc.  Let  me  try  to  make  my  meaning  plainer  then.  I  do 
not  think  that  we  have  as  yet  decided  what  that  is  about  which 
we  are  consulting,  when  we  ask  which  of  us  is  or  is  not  skilled 
in  the  art,  and  has  or  has  not  had  a  teacher  of  the  art. 

Nic.  Why,  Socrates,  is  not  the  question  whether  young  men 
ought  or  ought  not  to  learn  the  art  of  fighting  in  armour  ? 

Soc.  Yes,  Nicias;  but  there  is  also  a  prior  question,  which  I 
may  illustrate  in  this  way :  When  a  person  considers  about 
applying  a  medicine  to  the  eyes,  would  you  say  that  he  is 
consulting  about  the  medicine  or  about  the  eyes  ? 

Nic.  About  the  eyes. 

Soc.  And  when  he  considers  if  he  shall  set  a  bridle  on  a 
horse,  he  thinks  of  the  horse  and  not  of  the  bridle  ? 

Nic.  True. 

Soc.  And  in  a  word,  when  he  considers  anything  for  the 
sake  of  another  thing,  he  thinks  of  the  end  and  not  of  the 
means  ? 

Nic.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  when  you  call  in  an  adviser,  you  should  see  whether 
he  is  skilful  in  the  accomplishment  of  the  end  which  you  have 
in  view,  as  well  as  of  the  means  ? 
Nic.  Most  true. 

Soc.  And  at  present  we  have  in  view  some  kind  of  know 
ledge,  the  end  of  which  is  the  soul  of  youth  ? 


LACHES.  87 

Nic.  Yes. 

Soc.  The  question  is,  Which  of  us  is  skilful  or  successful  in 
the  treatment  of  the  soul,  and  which  of  us  has  had  good 
teachers  ? 

La.  Well  but,  Socrates  ;  did  you  never  observe  that  some 
persons,  who  have  had  no  teachers,  are  more  skilful  than  those 
who  have,  in  some  things? 

Soc.  Yes,  Laches,  I  have  observed  that ;  but  you  would  not 
be  very  willing  to  trust  them  if  they  only  professed  to  be  masters 
of  their  art,  unless  they  could  show  some  proof  of  their  skill 
1 86  or  excellence  in  one  or  more  works. 

La.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  And  therefore,  Laches  and  Nicias,  as  Lysimachus  and 
Melesias,  in  their  anxiety  to  improve  the  minds  of  their  sons, 
have  asked  our  advice  about  them,  we  too  should  tell  them  who 
our  teachers  were,  if  we  say  that  we  have  had  any,  and  prove 
them  to  be  men  of  merit  and  experienced  trainers  of  the  minds 
of  youth  and  really  our  teachers.  Or  if  any  of  us  says  that  he 
has  no  teacher,  but  that  he  has  works  to  show  of  his  own ;  then 
he  should  point  out  to  them  what  Athenians  or  strangers, 
bond  or  free,  he  is  generally  acknowledged  to  have  improved. 
But  if  he  can  show  neither  teachers  nor  works,  then  he  should 
tell  them  to  look  out  for  others ;  and  not  run  the  risk  of 
spoiling  the  children  of  friends,  which  is  the  most  formidable 
accusation  that  can  be  brought  against  any  one  by  those  nearest 
to  him.  As  for  myself,  Lysimachus  and  Melesias,  I  am  the 
first  to  confess  that  I  have  never  had  a  teacher ;  although  I 
have  always  from  my  earliest  youth  desired  to  have  one.  But 
I  am  too  poor  to  give  money  to  the  Sophists,  who  are  the 
only  professors  of  moral  improvement  ;  and  to  this  day  I  have 
never  been  able  to  discover  the  art  myself,  though  I  should 
not  be  surprised  if  Nicias  or  Laches  may  have  learned  or 
discovered  it  ;  for  they  are  far  wealthier  than  I  am,  and  may 
therefore  have  learnt  of  others.  And  they  are  older  too  ;  so 
that  they  have  had  more  time  to  make  the  discovery.  And  I 
really  believe  that  they  are  able  to  educate  a  man  ;  for  unless 
they  had  been  confident  in  their  own  knowledge,  they  would 
never  have  spoken  thus  decidedly  of  the  pursuits  which  arc 
advantageous  or  hurtful  to  a  young  man.  I  repose  confidence 

88  LACHES. 

in  both  of  them  ;  but  I  am  surprised  to  find  that  they  differ 
from  one  another.  And  therefore,  Lysimachus,  as  Laches 
suggested  that  you  should  detain  me,  and  not  let  me  go  until 
I  answered,  I  in  turn  earnestly  beseech  and  advise  you  to  detain 
Laches  and  Nicias,  and  question  them.  I  would  have  you  say 
to  them :  Socrates  avers  that  he  has  no  knowledge  of  the 
matter — he  is  unable  to  decide  which  of  you  speaks  truly ; 
neither  discoverer  nor  student  is  he  of  anything  of  the  kind. 
But  you,  Laches  and  Nicias,  should  each  of  you  tell  us  who  is 
the  most  skilful  educator  whom  you  have  ever  known  ;  and 
whether  you  invented  the  art  yourselves,  or  learned  of  another ; 
and  if  you  learned,  who  were  your  respective  teachers,  and  who  187 
were  their  brothers  in  the  art  ;  and  then,  if  you  are  too  much 
occupied  in  politics  to  teach  us  yourselves,  let  us  go  to  them, 
and  present  them  with  gifts,  or  make  interest  with  them,  or 
both,  in  the  hope  that  they  may  be  induced  to  take  charge  of 
all  our  families,  in  order  that  they  may  not  grow  up  inferior, 
and  disgrace  their  ancestors.  But  if  you  are  yourselves  original 
discoverers  in  that  field,  give  us  some  proof  of  your  skill  Who 
are  they  who,  having  been  inferior  persons,  have  become  under 
your  care  good  and  noble  ?  For  if  this  is  your  first  attempt  at 
education,  there  is  a  danger  that  you  may  be  trying  the  experi 
ment,  not  on  the  '  vile  corpus '  of  a  Carian  slave,  but  on  your 
own  sons,  or  the  sons  of  your  friend,  and,  as  the  proverb  says, 
'  break  the  large  vessel  in  learning  to  make  pots.'  Tell  us  then, 
what  qualities  you  claim  or  do  not  claim.  Make  them  tell  you 
that,  Lysimachus,  and  do  not  let  them  off. 

Lys.  I  very  much  approve  of  the  words  of  Socrates,  my 
friends  ;  but  you,  Nicias  and  Laches,  must  determine  whether 
you  will  be  questioned,  and  give  an  explanation  about  matters 
of  this  sort.  Assuredly,  I  and  Melesias  would  be  greatly  pleased 
to  hear  you  answer  the  questions  which  Socrates  asks,  if  you 
will :  for  I  began  by  saying  that  we  took  you  into  our  counsels 
because  we  thought  that  you  would  have  attended  to  the  sub- 
jectrvespecially  as  you  have  children  who,  like  our  own,  are 
nearly  of  an  age  to  be  educated.  Well,  then,  if  you  have  no 
objection,  suppose  that  you  take  Socrates  into  partnership ;  and 
do  you  and  he  ask  and  answer  one  another's  questions :  for,  as 
he  has  well  said,  we  are  deliberating  about  the  most  important 

LACHES.  89 

of  our  concerns.  I  hope  that  you  will  sec  fit  to  comply  with 
our  request. 

Nic.  I  see  very  clearly,  Lysimachus,  that  you  have  only 
known  Socrates'  father,  and  have  no  acquaintance  with  Socrates 
himself:  at  least,  you  can  only  have  known  him  when  he  was  a 
child,  and  may  have  met  him  among  his  fellow-tribesmen,  in 
company  with  his  father,  at  a  sacrifice,  or  at  some  other  gather 
ing.  You  clearly  show  that  you  have  never  known  him  since 
he  arrived  at  manhood. 

Lys.  Why  do  you  say  that,  Nicias? 

Nic.  You  do  not  seem  to  be  aware  that  any  one  who  has  an 
intellectual  affinity  to  Socrates  and  enters  into  conversation 
with  him  is  liable  to  be  drawn  into  an  argument ;  and  what 
ever  subject  he  may  start,  he  will  be  continually  carried  round 
and  round  by  him,  until  at  last  he  finds  that  he  has  to  give  an 
1 88  account  both  of  his  present  and  past  life;  and  when  he  is  once 
entangled,  Socrates  will  not  let  him  go  until  he  has  completely 
and  thoroughly  sifted  him.  Now  I  am  used  to  his  ways  ;  and 
I  know  that  he  will  certainly  do  as  I  say,  and  also  that  I  my 
self  will  be  the  sufferer ;  for  I  am  fond  of  his  conversation, 
Lysimachus.  Neither  do  I  think  that  there  is  any  harm  in 
being  reminded  of  the  evil  which  we  are,  or  have  been,  doing  : 
he  who  does  not  fly  from  reproof  will  be  sure  to  take  more  heed 
of  his  after  life  ;  as  Solon  says,  he  will  wish  and  desire  to  be 
learning  so  long  as  he  lives,  and  will  not  think  that  old  age  of 
itself  brings  wisdom.  To  me,  to  be  cross-examined  by  Socrates 
is  neither  unusual  nor  unpleasant  ;  indeed,  I  knew  all  along 
that  where  Socrates  was,  the  argument  would  soon  pass  from 
our  sons  to  ourselves  ;  and  therefore,  I  say  that  for  my  part, 
I  am  quite  willing  to  discourse  with  Socrates  in  his  own  man 
ner  ;  but  you  had  better  ask  our  friend  Laches  what  his  feeling 
may  be. 

La,  I  have  but  one  feeling,  Nicias,  or  (shall  I  say?)  two 
feelings,  about  discussions.  Some  would  think  that  I  am  a 
lover,  and  to  others  I  may  seem  to  be  a  hater  of  discourse ; 
for  when  I  hear  a  man  discoursing  of  virtue,  or  of  any  sort  of 
wisdom,  who  is  a  true  man  and  worthy  of  his  theme,  I  am 
delighted  beyond  measure :  and  I  compare  the  man  and  his 
words,  and  note  the  harmony  and  correspondence  of  them. 

90  LACHES. 

And  such  an  one  I  deem  to  be  the  true  musician,  attuned  to 
a  fairer  harmony  than  that  of  the  lyre,  or  any  pleasant  instru 
ment  of  music  ;  for  truly  he  has  in  his  own  life  a  harmony  of 
words  and  deeds  arranged,  not  in  the  Ionian,  or  in  the  Phrygian 
mode,  nor  yet  in  the  Lydian,  but  in  the  true  Hellenic  mode, 
which  is  the  Dorian,  and  no  other.  Such  an  one  makes  me 
merry  with  the  sound  of  his  voice ;  and  when  I  hear  him  I  am 
thought  to  be  a  lover  of  discourse ;  so  eager  am  I  in  drinking 
in  his  words.  But  a  man  whose  actions  do  not  agree  with  his 
words  is  an  annoyance  to  me  ;  and  the  better  he  speaks  the 
more  I  hate  him,  and  then  I  seem  to  be  a  hater  of  discourse. 
As  to  Socrates,  I  have  no  knowledge  of  his  words,  but  of  old, 
as  would  seem,  I  have  had  experience  of  his  deeds ;  and  his 
deeds  show  that  free  and  noble  sentiments  may  be  expected  189 
from  him.  And  if  his  words  accord,  then  I  am  of  one  mind 
with  him,  and  shall  be  delighted  to  be  interrogated  by  a  man 
such  as  he  is,  and  shall  not  be  annoyed  at  having  to  learn  of 
him  :  for  I  too  agree  with  Solon,  '  that  I  would  fain  grow  old, 
learning  many  things.'  But  I  must  be  allowed  to  add  'of  the 
good  only.'  Socrates  must  be  willing  to  allow  that  he  is  a 
good  teacher,  or  I  shall  be  a  dull  and  uncongenial  pupil :  but 
that  the  teacher  is  younger,  or  not  as  yet  in  repute — anything 
of  that  sort  is  of  no  account  with  me.  And  therefore,  Socrates, 
I  give  you  notice  that  you  may  teach  and  confute  me  as  much 
as  ever  you  like,  and  also  learn  of  me  anything  which  I  know. 
Such  is  the  opinion  which  I  have  had  of  you  ever  since  that 
day  on  which  you  were  my  companion  in  danger,  and  gave  an 
unmistakable  proof  of  'your  valour.  Therefore,  say  whatever 
you  like,  and  do  not  mind  about  the  difference  of  our  ages. 

Soc.  I  cannot  say  that  either  of  you  show  any  reluctance  to 
take  counsel  and  advise  with  me. 

Lys.  But  that  is  our  business  ;  and  yours  as  well  as  ours,  for 
I  reckon  you  as  one  of  us.  Please  then  to  take  my  place,  and 
find  out  from  Nicias  and  Laches  what  we  want  to  know,  for 
the  sake  of  the  youths,  and  talk  and  advise  with  them  :  for  I 
am  old,  and  my  memory  is  bad ;  and  I  do  not  remember  the 
questions  which  I  am  going  to  ask,  or  the  answers  to  them  ; 
and  if  there  is  anyjnterruption  I  am  quite  lost.  I  will  there 
fore  beg  of  you  to  carry  on  the  proposed  discussion  by  your- 

LACHES.  91 

selves  ;  and  I  will  listen,  and  Melesias  and  I  will  act  upon  your 

Soc.  Let  us,  Nicias  and  Laches,  comply  with  the  request 
of  Lysimachus  and  Melesias.  There  would  be  no  harm  in 
asking  ourselves  the  question  which  was  first  proposed  to  us : 
Who  have  been  our  own  instructors  in  this  sort  of  training,  and 
whom  have  we  made  better  ?  But  the  other  mode  of  carrying 
on  the  enquiry  will  bring  us  to  the  same  point,  and  will  be 
more  like  proceeding  from  first  principles.  For  if  we  knew  that 
the  addition  of  something  would  improve  some  other  thing, 
and  were  able  to  make  the  addition,  then,  clearly,  we  must 
know  how  that  about  which  we  are  advising  may  be  best  and 
most  easily  attained.  Perhaps  you  do  not  understand  what  I 
mean.  Then  let  me  make  my  meaning  plainer  itv  this  way. 
190  Suppose  we  knew  that  the  addition  of  sight  make's  better 
the  eyes  which  possess  this  gift,  and  also  were  able  to  impart 
sight  to  the  eyes,  then,  clearly,  we  should  know  the  nature  of 
sight,  and  should  be  able  to  advise  how  this  gift  of  sight  may 
be  best  and  most  easily  attained  ;  but  if  we  knew  neither  what 
sight  is,  nor  what  hearing  is,  we  should  not  be  very  good 
medical  advisers  about  the  eyes  or  the  ears,  or  about  the  best 
mode  of  giving  sight  and  hearing  to  them. 

La.  That  is  true,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  are  not  our  two  friends,  Laches,  at  this  very 
moment  inviting  us  to  consider  in  what  way  the  gift  of  virtue 
may  be  imparted  to  their  sons  for  the  improvement  of  their 
minds  ? 

La.   Very  true. 

Soc.  Then  must  we  not  first  know  the  nature  of  virtue  ?  For 
how  can  we  advise  any  one  about  the  best  mode  of  attaining 
that  of  which  we  are  wholly  ignorant  ? 

La.    I  do  not  think  that  we  can,  Socrates. 

Soc.    Then,    Laches,    we    may   presume    that    we    know    t 
nature  of  virtue  ? 

La.   Yes. 

Soc.   And  that  which  we  know  we  must  surely  be  able  to  tell  ? 

La.    Certainly. 

Soc.  I  would  not  have  us  begin,  my  friend,  with  enquiring 
about  the  whole  of  virtue  ;  for  that  may  be  too  much  ;  let  us 

92  LACHES. 

first  consider  whether  we  have  a  sufficient  knowledge  of  a  part ; 
that  will  probably  be  for  us  an  easier  mode  of  proceeding. 

La.   Let  us  do  as  you  say,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Then  which  of  the  parts  of  virtue  shall  we  select? 
Must  we  not  select  that  to  which  the  use  of  arms  is  sup 
posed  to  conduce  ?  And  is  not  that  generally  supposed  to  be 
courage  ? 

La.   Yes,  certainly. 

Soc.  Then,  Laches,  suppose  that  we  first  set  about  deter 
mining  the  nature  of  courage,  and  in  the  second  place  proceed 
to  enquire  how  the  young  men  may  attain  this  quality  by  the 
help  of  studies  and  pursuits.  Try,  and  see  whether  you  can 
tell  me  what  is  courage. 

La.  Indeed,  Socrates,  that  is  soon  answered  ;  he  is  a  man 
of  courage  w;ho  remains  at  his  post,  and  does  not  run  away,  but 
fights  against  the  enemy ;  of  that  you  may  be  very  certain. 

Soc.  That  is  good,  Laches  ;  and  yet  I  fear  that  I  did  not 
express  myself  clearly ;  and  therefore  you  have  answered  not 
the  question  which  I  intended  to  ask,  but  another. 

La.   What  do  you  mean,  Socrates?  191 

Soc.  I  will  endeavour  to  explain ;  you  would  call  a  man 
courageous  who  remains  at  his  post,  and  fights  with  the  enemy  ? 

La.    Certainly  I  should. 

Soc.  And  so  should  I  ;  but  what  would  you  say  of  another 
man,  who  fights  flying,  instead  of  remaining? 

La.    How  flying  ? 

Soc.  Why,  as  the  Scythians  are  said  to  fight,  flying  as  well 
as  pursuing  ;  and  as  Homer  says  in  praise  of  the  horses  of 
Aeneas,  that  they  knew  '  how  to  pursue,  and  fly  quickly  hither 
and  thither;'  and  he  passes  an  encomium  on  Aeneas  himself,  as 
having  a  knowledge  of  fear  or  flight,  and  calls  him  *  an  author 
of  fear  or  flight.' 

La.  Yes,  Socrates,  and  there  Homer  is  right  :  for  he  was 
speaking  of  chariots,  as  you  were  speaking  of  the  Scythian 
cavalry,  who  have  that  way  of  fighting  ;  but  the  heavy-armed 
Greek  fights,  as  I  say,  remaining  in  his  rank. 

Soc.  And  yet,  Laches,  you  must  except  the  Lacedaemonians 
at  Plataea,  who,  when  they  came  upon  the  light  shields  of  the 
Persians,  are  said  not  to  have  been  willing  to  stand  and  fight, 

LACHES.  93 

and  to  have  fled  ;  but  when  the  ranks  of  the  Persians  were 
broken,  they  turned  upon  them  like  cavalry,  and  won  the 

La.    That  is  true. 

Soc.  That  was  my  meaning  when  I  said  that  I  was  to  blame 
in  having  put  my  question  badly,  and  that  this  was  the  reason 
of  your  answering  badly.  For  I  meant  to  ask  you  not  only 
about  the  courage  of  heavy-armed  soldiers,  but  about  the 
courage  of  cavalry  and  every  other  style  of  soldier  ;  and  not 
only  who  are  courageous  in  war,  but  who  are  courageous  in 
perils  by  sea,  and  who  in  disease,  or  in  poverty,  or  again  in 
politics,  are  courageous  ;  and  not  only  who  are  courageous 
against  pain  or  fear,  but  mighty  to  contend  against  desires  and 
pleasures,  either  fixed  in  their  rank  or  turning  upon  their 
enemy.  There  is  this  sort  of  courage — is  there  not,  Laches  ? 
La.  Certainly,  Socrates. 

Soc.   And  all  these  are  courageous,  but  some  have  courage  in 
pleasures,  and  some  in  pains  :    some    in   desires,  and   some  in 
fears,  and  some  are  cowards  under  the  same  conditions,  as  I 
should  imagine. 
La.    Very  true. 

Soc.  Now  I  was  asking  about  courage  and  cowardice  in 
general.  And  I  will  begin  with  courage,  and  once  more  ask, 
What  is  that  common  quality,  which  is  the  same  in  all  these 
cases,  and  which  is  called  courage  ?  Do  you  understand  now 
what  I  mean  ? 

La.    Not  over  well. 

192  Soc.  I  mean  this  :  As  I  might  ask  what  is  that  quality  which 
is  called  quickness,  and  which  is  found  in  running,  in  playing 
the  lyre,  in  speaking,  in  learning,  and  in  many  other  similar 
actions,  or  rather  which  we  possess  in  nearly  every  action  that 
is  worth  mentioning  of  arms,  legs,  mouth,  voice,  mind  ; — would 
you  not  apply  the  term  quickness  to  all  of  them  ? 
La.  Quite  true. 

Soc.  And  suppose  I  were  to  be  asked  by  some  one :  What 
is  that  common  quality,  Socrates,  which,  in  all  these  uses  of 
the  word,  you  call  quickness  ?  I  should  say  that  which  accom 
plishes  much  in  a  little  time— that  I  call  quickness  in  running, 
speaking,  and  every  other  sort  of  action. 

94  LACHES. 

La.   You  would  be  quite  correct. 

Soc.  And  now,  Laches,  do  you  try  and  tell  me,  What  is 
that  common  quality  which  is  called  courage,  and  which  in 
cludes  all  the  various  uses  of  the  term  when  applied  both  to 
pleasure  and  pain,  and  in  all  the  cases  which  I  was  just  now 
mentioning  ? 

La.  I  should  say  that  courage  is  a  sort  of  endurance  of  the 
soul,  if  I  am  to  speak  of  the  universal  nature  which  pervades 
them  all. 

Soc.  But  that  is  what  we  must  do  if  we  are  to  answer  the 
question.  And  yet  I  cannot  say  that  every  kind  of  endurance 
is,  in  my  opinion,  to  be  deemed  courage.  Hear  my  reason  :  I 
am  sure,  Laches,  that  you  would  consider  courage  to  be  a  very 
noble  quality. 

La.    Most  noble,  certainly. 

Soc.  And  you  would  say  that  a  wise  endurance  is  also  good 
and  noble  ? 

La.   Very  noble. 

Soc.  But  what  would  you  say  of  a  foolish  endurance  ?  Is  not 
that,  on  the  other  hand,  to  be  regarded  as  evil  and  hurtful  ? 

La.   True. 

Soc.   And  is  anything  noble  which  is  evil  and  hurtful  ? 

La.    I  ought  not  to  say  that,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Then  you  would  not  admit  that  sort  of  endurance  to  be 
courage — for  that  is  not  noble,  but  courage  is  noble? 

La.    You  are  right. 

Soc.  Then,  according  to  you,  only  the  wise  endurance  is 
courage  ? 

La.    True. 

Soc.  But  as  to  the  epithet  '  wise,' — wise  in  what  ?  In  all 
things  small  as  well  as  great  ?  For  example,  if  a  man  endures 
in  spending  his  money  wisely,  knowing  that  by  spending  he 
:.  will  acquire  more  in  the  end,  do  you  call  him  courageous  ? 

La.   Assuredly  not. 

Soc.  Or,  for  example,  if  a  man  is  a  physician,  and  his  son, 
or  some  patient  of  his,  has  inflammation  of  the  lungs,  and  begs 
that  he  may  be  allowed  to  eat  or  drink  something,  and  the 
other  refuses  ;  is  that  courage  ? 

La.   No  ;  that  is  not  courage  at  all,  any  more  than  the  last.    J93 

LACHES.  95 

Soc.  Again,  take  the  case  of  one  who  endures  in  war,  and  is 
willing  to  fight,  and  wisely  calculates  and  knows  that  others 
will  help  him,  and  that  there  will  be  fewer  and  inferior  men 
against  him  than  there  are  with  him  ;  and  suppose  that  he  has 
also  advantages  of  position  ; — would  you  say  of  such  a  one  who 
endures  with  all  this  wisdom  and  preparation,  that  he,  or  some 
man  in  the  opposing  army  who  is  in  the  opposite  circum 
stances  to  these  and  yet  endures  and  remains  at  his  post,  is 
the  braver? 

La.    I  should  say  that  the  latter,  Socrates,  was  the  braver. 

Soc.  But,  surely,  this  is  a  foolish  endurance  in  comparison 
with  the  other? 

La.    That  is  true. 

Soc.  And  you  would  say  that  he  who  in  an  engagement  of 
cavalry  endures,  having  the  knowledge  of  horsemanship,  is  not 
so  courageous  as  he  who  endures,  having  no  knowledge  of 
horsemanship  ? 

La.    That  is  my  view. 

Soc.  And  he  who  endures,  having  a  knowledge  of  the  use 
of  the  sling,  or  the  bow,  or  of  any  other  art,  is  not  so  courageous 
as  he  who  endures,  not  having  such  a  knowledge  ? 

La.    True. 

Soc.  And  he  who  descends  into  a  well,  and  dives,  and  holds 
out  in  this  or  any  similar  action,  having  no  knowledge  of 
diving,  or  the  like,  is,  as  you  would  say,  more  courageous  than 
those  who  have  this  knowledge  ? 

La.    Why,  Socrates,  what  else  can  a  man  say? 

Soc.    Nothing,  if  that  is  what  he  thinks. 

La.    But  that  is  what  I  do  think. 

Soc.  And  yet  men  who  thus  run  risks  and  endure  are  foolish, 
Laches,  in  comparison  of  those  who  do  the  same  things,  having 
the  skill  to  do  them. 

La.    That  is  true. 

Soc.  But  foolish  boldness  and  endurance  appeared  before  to 
be  base  and  hurtful  to  us. 

La.  Quite  true. 

Soc.  Whereas  courage  was  acknowledged  to  be  a  noble 

La.  True. 

96  LACHES. 

Soc.  And  now  on  the  contrary  we  are  saying  that  the  fool 
ish  endurance,  which  was  before  held  in  dishonour,  is  courage. 
La.  Very  true. 

Soc.  And  are  we  right  in  saying  that? 
La.  Indeed,  Socrates,  I  am  sure  that  we  are  not  right. 
Soc.  Then  according  to  your  statement,  you  and  I,  Laches, 
are  not  attuned  to  the  Dorian  mode,  which   is   a   harmony   of 
words  and  deeds ;  for  our  deeds  are  not  in  accordance  with  our 
words.      Any  one  would  say  that  we  had  courage  who  saw  us 
in  action,  but  not,  I  imagine,  he  who  heard  us   talking    about 
courage  just  now. 

La.  That  is  most  true. 

Soc.  And  is  this  condition  of  ours  satisfactory? 
La.  Quite  the  reverse. 

Soc.  Suppose,  however,  that  we  admit  the  principle  of  which 
we  are  speaking  to  a  certain  extent. 

La.  What  principle?     And  to  what  extent?  I94 

Soc.  The  principle  of  endurance.  We  too  must  endure  and 
persevere  in  the  enquiry,  and  then  courage  will  not  laugh  at 
our  faint-heartedness  in  searching  for  courage ;  which  after  all 
may,  very  likely,  be  endurance. 

La.  I  am  ready  to  go  on,  Socrates  ;  and  yet  I  am  unused  to 
investigations  of  this  sort.  But  the  spirit  of  controversy  has 
been  aroused  in  me  by  what  has  been  said  ;  and  I  am  really 
grieved  at  being  thus  unable  to  express  my  meaning.  For  I 
fancy  that  I  do  know  the  nature  of  courage ;  but,  somehow  or 
other,  she  has  slipped  away  from  me,  and  I  cannot  get  hold  of 
her  and  tell  her  nature. 

Soc.  But,   my  dear  friend,  should    not    the   good   sportsman 
follow  the  track,  and  not  be  lazy? 
La.  Certainly,  he  should. 

Soc.  And  shall  we  invite  Nicias  to  join  us  ?  he  may  be  better 
at  the  sport  than  we  are.     What  do  you  say? 
La.  I  should  like  that. 

Soc.  Come  then,  Nicias,  and  do  what  you  can  to  help  your 
friends,  who  are  tossing  on  the  waves  of  argument,  and  at  the 
last  gasp  :  you  see  our  extremity,  and  may  save  us,  and  also 
settle  your  own  opinion,  if  you  will  tell  us  what  you  think 
about  courage. 

LACHES.  97 

Nic.  I  have  been  thinking,  Socrates,  that  you  and  Laches 
are  not  defining  courage  in  the  right  way ;  for  you  have  for 
gotten  an  excellent  saying  which  I  have  heard  from  your  own 

,  Soc.  What  is  that,  Nicias? 

Nic.  I  have  often  heard  you  say  that  '  Every  man  is  good  in 
that  in  which  he  is  wise,  and  bad  in  that  in  which  he  is  un 

Soc.  That  is  certainly  true,  Nicias. 

NIC.  And  therefore  if  the  brave  man  is  good,  he  is  also  wise. 

Soc.  Do  you  hear  him,  Laches? 

La.  Yes,  I  hear  him,  but  I  do  not  understand  him. 

Soc.  I  think  that  I  understand  him  ;  and  he  appears  to  me 
to  mean  that  courage  is  a  sort  of  wisdom. 

La.  What  sort  of  wisdom,  Socrates? 

Soc.  That  is  a  question  which  you  must  ask  of  Nicias 

La.  Yes. 

Soc.  Tell  him  then,  Nicias,  what  you  mean  by  this  wisdom  ; 
for  you  surely  do  not  mean  the  wisdom  which  plays  the 

Nic.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  Nor  the  wisdom  which  plays  the  lyre? 
Nic.  No. 

Soc.  But  what  is  this  knowledge  then,  and  of  what  ? 
La.  I    think   that   you   put    the   question    to   him    very  well, 
Socrates  ;  and  I  would  like  him   to   say  what  is  the  nature  of 
this  knowledge  or  wisdom. 

J95      Nic.  I  mean  to  say,  Laches,  that   courage   is  the  knowledge 
of  that  which  inspires  fear  or  confidence  in  war,  or  in  anything. 
La.  How  strangely  he  is  talking,  Socrates. 
Soc.  What  makes  you  say  that,  Laches? 

La.  What  makes  me  say  that?      Why  surely  courage  is  one 
thing,  and  wisdom  another. 

Soc.  That  is  just  what  Nicias  denies. 
La.  Yes,  that  is  what  he  denies  in  his  foolishness. 
Soc.  Shall  we  enlighten  him  instead  of  abusing  him  ? 
Nic.  Laches   does   not  want   to    enlighten   me,  Socrates;  but 
having  been   proved   to  be   talking  nonsense  himself,  he^wants 
to  prove  that  I  have  been  doing  the  same. 
VOL.  i.  H 

98  LACHES. 

La.  Very  true,  Nicias  ;  and  you  are  talking  nonsense,  as  I 
shall  endeavour  to  show.  Let  me  ask  you  a  question  :  Do  not 
physicians  know  the  dangers  of  disease  ?  or  do  the  courageous 
know  them  ?  or  are  the  physicians  the  same  as  the  courageous  ? 

NIC.    Not  at  all. 

La.  No  more  than  the  husbandmen  who  know  the  dangers 
of  husbandry,  or  than  other  craftsmen,  who  have  a  knowledge  of 
that  which  inspires  them  with  fear  or  confidence  in  their  own 
arts,  and  yet  they  arc  not  courageous  a  whit  the  more  for  that. 

Soc.  What  is  Laches  saying,  Nicias  ?  He  appears  to  be  say 
ing  something. 

NIC.   Yes,  he  is  saying  something,  but  something  which  is  not 


Soc.    How  is  that  ? 

NIC.   Why,   because   he    docs   not   see    that    the    physician's^ 
knowledge   only  extends  to  the  nature  of  health  and  disease  : 
he   can   tell   the   sick   man   that,   and   nothing   more.     Do   you 
imagine,    Laches,  that  the  physician   knows  whether  health  or 
disease  is  the  more  terrible  to  a  man?     Had  not  many  a  man 
better  never  get  up  from  a  sick  bed  ?     I  should  like  to  know 
whether  you  think  that  life  is  always  better  than  death.     May 
not  death  often  be  the  better  of  the  two  ? 
La.    Yes,  I  certainly  think  that. 

NIC.    And  do  you  think  that  the  same  things  are  terrible  to 
those  who  had  better  die,  and  to  those  who  had  better  live  ? 
La.    Certainly  not. 

NIC.  And  do  you  suppose  that  the  physician  or  any  other 
artist  knows  this,  or  any  one  indeed,  except  he  who  is  skilled 
in  the  grounds  of  fear  and  hope  ?  And  him  I  call  the  coura 

Soc.  Do  you  understand  his  meaning,  Laches  ? 
La.  Yes  ;  I  suppose  that,  in  his  way  of  speaking,  the  sooth 
sayers  are  courageous.  For  who  but  one  of  them  can  know  to 
whom  to  die  or  to  live  is  better?  And  yet,  Nicias,  would  you 
allow  that  you  are  yourself  a  soothsayer,  or  are  you  neither 
a  soothsayer  nor  courageous  ? 

Nic.   What !    do  you  mean  to  say  that  the  soothsayer  ought 
to  know  the  grounds  of  hope  or  fear  ? 
La.    Indeed  I  do  :  who  but  he  ? 




NIC.  Much  rather  I  should  say  he  of  whom  I  speak  ;  for  the 
soothsayer  ought  to  know  only  the  signs  of  things  that  are 
about  to  come  to  pass,  whether  death  or  disease,  or  loss  of 
196  property,  or  victory,  or  defeat  in  war,  or  in  any  sort  of  con 
test  ;  but  to  whom  the  suffering  or  not  suffering  of  these  things 
will  be  for  the  best,  can  no  more  be  decided  by  the  soothsayer 
than  by  one  who  is  no  soothsayer. 

La.  I  cannot  understand  what  Nicias  would  be  at,  Socrates  ; 
for  he  represents  the  courageous  man  as  neither  a  soothsayer, 
nor  a  physician,  nor  in  any  other  character,  unless  he  means  to 
say  that  he  is  a  god.  My  opinion  is  that  he  does  not  like 
honestly  to  confess  that  he  is  talking  nonsense,  but  that  he 
shuffles  up  and  down  in  order  to  conceal  the  difficulty  into 
which  he  has  got  himself.  You  and  I,  Socrates,  might  have 
practised  a  similar  shuffle  just  now,  if  we  had  only  wanted  to 
avoid  the  appearance  of  inconsistency.  And  if  we  had  been 
arguing  in  a  court  of  law  there  might  have  been  reason  in  so 
doing  ;  but  why  should  a  man  deck  himself  out  with  vain  words 
at  a  meeting  of  friends  such  as  this  ? 

Soc.  I  quite  agree  with  you,  Laches,  that  he  should  not.  But 
perhaps  Nicias  is  serious,  and  not  merely  talking  for  the  sake 
of  talking.  Let  us  ask  him  to  explain  what  he  means,  and  if 
he  has  reason  on  his  side  we  will  agree  with  him  ;  if  not,  we 
will  instruct  him. 

La.  Do  you,  Socrates,  if  you  like,  ask  him  :  I  think  that  I 
have  asked  enough. 

Soc.  I  do  not  see  why  I  should  not  ;  and  my  question  will 
do  for  both  of  us. 

La.   Very  good. 

Soc.  Then  tell  me,  Nicias,  or  rather  tell  us,  for  Laches  and 
I  are  partners  in  the  argument  :  Do  you  mean  to  affirm  that 
courage  is  the  knowledge  of  the  grounds  of  hope  and  fear? 

Nic.    I  do. 

SQC.  And  not  every  man  has  this  knowledge  ;  neither  the 
physician,  nor  the  soothsayer,  who  will  not  be  courageous  unless 
they  superadd  this  particular  knowledge  —  that  is  what  you  were 
saying  ? 

Nic.    I  was. 

Soc.    Then    courage   is   not    a   thing   which    every  pig   would 

II  2 

ioo  LACHES. 

have,  any  more  than  he  would  have  knowledge,  as  the  proverb 
says  ? 

NIC.    I  think  not. 

Soc.  Clearly  not,  Nicias ;  not  even  such  a  big  pig  as  the 
Crommyonian  sow  would  be  called  by  you  courageous.  And 
this  I  say  not  as  a  joke,  but  because  I  think  that  he  who  as 
sents  to  your  doctrine,  that  courage  is  the  knowledge  of  the 
grounds  of  fear  and  hope,  cannot  allow  that  any  wild  beast  is 
courageous,  unless  he  admits  that  a  lion,  or  a  leopard,  or  per 
haps  a  boar,  or  any  other  animal,  has  such  a  degree  of  wisdom 
that  he  knows  things  which  but  a  few  human  beings  ever  know 
by  reason  of  their  difficulty.  He  who  takes  your  view  of 
courage  must  affirm  that  a  lion,  and  a  stag,  and  a  bull,  and  a 
monkey,  have  equally  little  pretensions  to  courage. 

La.    Capital,  Socrates  ;  by  the  gods,  that  is  truly  good.    And  197 
I  hope,  Nicias,  that  you  will  tell  us  whether  these  animals,  which 
we  all  admit  to  be  courageous,  are  really  wiser  than  mankind  ; 
or  whether  you  will  have  the  boldness,  in  the  face  of  universal 
opinion,  to  deny  their  courage. 

NIC.  Why,  Laches,  I  do  not  call  animals  or  any  other  things 
courageous,  which  have  no  fear  of  dangers,  because  they  are 
ignorant  of  them,  but  fearless  and  senseless  only.  Do  you 
imagine  that  I  should  call  little  children  courageous,  which  fear 
no  dangers  because  they  know  none?  There  is  a  difference, 
to  my  way  of  thinking,  between  fearlessness  and  courage.  I 
am  of  opinion  that  thoughtful  courage  is  a  quality  possessed  by 
very  few,  but  that  rashness  and  boldness,  and  fearlessness, 
which  has  no  forethought,  are  very  common  qualities  possessed 
by  many  men,  many  women,  many  children,  many  animals. 
And  you,  and  men  in  general,  call  by  the  term  *  courageous ' 
actions  which  I  call  rash,  and  my  courageous  actions  are  wise 

La.  Behold,  Socrates,  how  admirably,  as  he  thinks,  he  dresses 
himself  out  in  words,  while  seeking  to  deprive  of  the  honour 
of  courage  those  whom  all  the  world  acknowledges  to  be 

Nic.  Be  of  good  cheer,  Laches  ;  for  I  am  quite  willing  to 
say  of  you  and  also  of  Lamachus,  and  of  many  other  Athenians, 
that  you  are  courageous  and  therefore  wise. 

LACHES.  10 1 

La.  I  could  answer  that ;  but  I  would  not  have  you  cast  in 
my  teeth  that  I  am  a  haughty  Aexonian. 

Soc.  I  would  not  have  you  answer  him,  for  I  fancy,  Laches, 
that  you  have  not  discovered  whence  his  wisdom  comes  ;  he  has 
got  all  this  from  my  friend  Damon,  and  Damon  is  always  with 
Prodicus,  who,  of  all  the  Sophists,  is  considered  to  be  the  best 
taker  to  pieces  of  words  of  this  sort. 

La.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  and  the  examination  of  such  niceties  is 
a  much  more  suitable  employment  for  a  Sophist  than  for  a 
great  statesman  whom  the  city  chooses  to  preside  over  her. 

Soc.  But  still,  my  sweet  friend,  a  great  statesman  is  likely  to 
have  great  intelligence.  And  I  think  that  the  view  which  is 
implied  in  Nicias'  definition  of  courage  is  worthy  of  examin 

La.    Then  examine  for  yourself,  Socrates. 

Soc.  That  is  what  I  am  going  to  do,  my  dear  friend.  Do 
not,  however,  suppose  I  shall  let  you  out  of  the  partnership  ; 
for  I  shall  expect  you  to  apply  your  mind,  and  join  with  me  in 
the  consideration  of  the  question. 

La.    I  will  if  you  think  that  I  ought. 

198  Soc.  Yes,  I  do  ;  but  I  must  beg  of  you,  Nicias,  to  begin  again. 
You  remember  that  we  originally  considered  courage  to  be  a 
part  of  virtue. 

Nic.    Very  true. 

Soc.  And  you  yourself  said  that  it  was  a  part  ;  and  there 
were  many  other  parts,  all  of  which  taken  together  are  called 

Nic.    Certainly. 

Soc.  Do  you  agree  with  me  about  the  parts?  For  I  say 
that  justice,  temperance,  and  the  like,  are  all  of  them  parts  of 
virtue  as  well  as  courage.  Would  you  not  say  the  same? 

Nic.    Certainly. 

Soc.  Well  then,  about  that  we  are  agreed.  And  now  let  us 
proceed  a  step,  and  see  whether  we  are  equally  agreed  about 
the  fearful  and  the  hopeful.  Let  me  tell  you  my  own  opinion, 
and  if  I  am  wrong  you  shall  set  me  right  :  in  my  opinion  the 
terrible  and  the  hopeful  arc  the  things  which  do  or  do  not 
create  fear,  and  fear  is  not  of  the  present,  nor  of  the  past,  but 
is  of  future  and  expected  evil.  Do  you  not  agree  to  that, 
Laches  ? 

102  LACHES. 

La.    Yes,  Socrates,  entirely. 

Soc.    That  is  my  view,  Nicias  ;  the  terrible  things,  as  I  should 
say,  are   the  evils  which  are  future  ;    and  the  hopeful  are  the 
good  or  not  evil  things  which  are  future.     Do  you  or  do  you 
not  agree  with  me? 
Nic.    I  agree. 

Soc.    And  the  knowledge  of  these  things  you  call  courage  ? 
Nic.    Precisely. 

Soc.   And  now  let  me  see  whether  you  agree  with  Laches 
and  myself  in  a  third  point. 
Nic.    What  is  that  ? 

Soc.  I  will  tell  you.  He  and  I  have  a  notion  that  there  is 
not  one  knowledge  or  science  of  the  past,  another  of  the  present, 
a  third  of  what  will  be  and  will  be  best  in  the  future ;  but  that 
of  all  three  there  is  one  science  only :  for  example,  there  is  one 
science  of  medicine  which  is  concerned  with  the  inspection  of 
health  equally  in  all  times,  present,  past,  and  future ;  and  of 
husbandry  in  like  manner,  which  is  concerned  with  the  pro 
ductions  of  the  earth  in  all  times.  As  to  the  general's  art,  your 
selves  will  be  my  witnesses,  that  the  general  has  to  think  of 
the  future  as  well  as  the  present ;  and  he  considers  that  he  is 
not  to  be  the  servant  of  the  soothsayer,  but  his  master,  because 
he  knows  better  what  is  happening  or  is  likely  to  happen  in  199 
war :  and  accordingly  the  law  places  the  soothsayer  under  the 
general,  and  not  the  general  under  the  soothsayer.  Am  I  not 
correct,  Laches? 
La.  Quite  correct. 

Soc.  And  do  you,  Nicias,  also  acknowledge  that  the  same 
science  has  understanding  of  the  same  things,  whether  future, 
present,  or  past? 

Nic.   Yes,  indeed,  Socrates ;   that  is  my  opinion. 
Soc.    And  courage,  my  friend,  is,  as  you  say,  a  knowledge  of 
the  fearful  and  of  the  hopeful  ? 
Nic.    Yes. 

Soc.    And   the  fearful,  and   the  hopeful,  are  admitted   to   be 
future  goods  and  future  evils? 
Nic.   True. 

Soc.  And  the  same  science  has  to  do  with  the  same  things 
in  the  future  or  at  any  time? 

LACHES.  103 

NIC.    That  is  true. 

Soc.  Then  courage  is  not  the  science  which  is  concerned  with 
the  fearful  and  hopeful,  for  they  are  future  only ;  courage,  like 
the  other  sciences,  is  concerned  not  only  with  good  and  evil  of 
the  future,  but  of  the  present  and  past,  and  of  any  time  ? 

Nic.    That,  as  I  suppose,  is  true. 

Soc.  Then  the  answer  which  you  have  given,  Nicias,  includes 
only  a  third  part  of  courage  ;  but  our  question  extended  to  the 
whole  nature  of  courage :  and  according  to  your  view,  that  is, 
according  to  your  present  view,  courage  is  not  only  the  know 
ledge  of  the  hopeful  and  the  fearful,  but  seems  to  include  nearly 
every  good  and  evil  without  reference  to  time.  What  do  you 
say  to  that  alteration  in  your  statement? 

Nic.    I  agree  to  that,  Socrates. 

Soc.  But  then,  my  dear  friend,  if  a  man  knew  all  good  and 
evil,  and  how  they  are,  and  have  been,  and  will  be  produced, 
would  he  not  be  perfect,  and  wanting  in  no  virtue,  whether 
justice,  or  temperance,  or  holiness?  He  would  possess  them  all, 
and  he  would  know  which  were  dangers  and  which  were  not, 
and  guard  against  them  whether  they  were  supernatural  or 
natural ;  and  he  would  provide  the  good,  as  he  would  know 
how  to  deal  with  gods  or  men. 

Nic.  I  think,  Socrates,  that  there  is  a  great  deal  of  truth  in 
what  you  say. 

Soc.  But  then,  Nicias,  courage,  according  to  this  new  defini 
tion  of  yours,  instead  of  being  a  part  of  virtue  only,  will  be 
all  virtue? 

Nic.    I  suppose  that  you  are  right. 

Soc.  But  we  were  saying  that  courage  is  one  of  the  parts  of 
virtue  ? 

Nic.    Yes,  that  was  what  we  were  saying. 

Soc.    And  that  is  in  contradiction  with  our  present  view? 

Nic.    That  appears  to  be  the  case. 

Soc.    Then,  Nicias,  we  have  not  discovered  what  courage  is. 

Nic.    We  have  not. 

200  La.  And  yet,  friend  Nicias,  I  imagined  that  you  would  have 
made  the  discovery,  as  you  were  so  contemptuous  of  the  an 
swers  which  I  made  to  Socrates-.  I  had  very  great  hopes  that 
you  would  have  been  enlightened  by  the  wisdom  of  Damon. 

104  LACHES. 

Nic.  I  perceive,  Laches,  that  you  think  nothing  of  having 
displayed  your  ignorance  of  the  nature  of  courage,  but  you  look 
only  to  see  whether  I  have  not  made  a  similar  display ;  and  if 
we  are  both  equally  ignorant  of  the  things  which  a  man  who 
is  good  for  anything  should  know,  that,  I  suppose,  will  be  of 
no  consequence.  You  certainly  appear  to  me  very  like  the  rest 
of  the  world,  looking  at  your  neighbour  and  not  at  yourself. 
I  am  of  opinion  that  enough  has  been  said  on  the  subject  of 
discussion  ;  and  if  anything  has  been  imperfectly  said,  that  may 
be  hereafter  corrected  by  the  help  of  Damon,  whom  you  think 
to  deride,  although  you  have  never  seen  him,  and  with  the  help 
of  others.  And  when  I  am  satisfied  myself,  I  will  freely  impart 
my  satisfaction  to  you,  for  I  think  that  you  are  very  much  in 
want  of  knowledge. 

La.  You  are  a  philosopher,  Nicias ;  of  that  I  am  aware : 
nevertheless  I  would  recommend  Lysimachus  and  Melesias  not 
to  take  you  and  me  as  advisers  about  the  education  of  their 
children  ;  but,  as  I  said  at  first,  they  should  ask  Socrates  ;  and 
if  my  sons  were  old  enough,  I  would  have  asked  him  myself. 

Nic.  To  that  I  quite  agree,  if  Socrates  is  willing  to  take 
them  under  his  charge.  I  should  not  wish  for  any  one  else 
to  be  the  tutor  of  Niceratus.  But  I  observe  that  when  I  men 
tion  the  matter  to  him  he  recommends  to  me  some  other  tutor 
and  refuses  himself.  Perhaps  he  may  be  more  ready  to  listen 
to  you,  Lysimachus. 

Lys.  He  ought,  Nicias  :  for  certainly  I  would  do  things  for 
him  which  I  would  not  do  for  many  others.  What  do  you  say, 
Socrates— will  you  comply  ?  And  are  you  ready  to  give  assis 
tance  in  the  improvement  of  the  youths  ? 

Soc.  Indeed,  Lysimachus,  I  should  be  very  wrong  in  refusing 
to  aid  in  the  improvement  of  anybody.  And  if  I  had  shown 
in  this  conversation  that  I  had  a  knowledge  which  Nicias  and 
Laches  have  not,  then  I  admit  that  you  would  be  right  in 
inviting  me  to  perform  this  duty ;  but  as  we  are  all  in  the 
same  perplexity,  why  should  one  of  us  be  preferred  to  another  ? 
I  certainly  think  that  no  one  should;  and  under  these  circum-  201 
stances,  let  me  offer  you  a  piece  of  advice  (and  this  need  not 
go  further  than  ourselves).  I  maintain,  my  friends,  that  every 
one  of  us  should  seek  out  the  best  teacher  whom  he  can  find, 

LACHES.  105 

first  for  ourselves,  who  arc  greatly  in  need  of  one,  and  then  for 
the  youth,  regardless  of  expense  or  anything.  But  I  cannot 
advise  that  we  remain  as  we  arc.  And  if  any  one  laughs  at 
us  for  going  to  school  at  our  age,  I  would  quote  to  them  the 
authority  of  Homer,  who  says,  that 

1  Modesty  is  not  good  for  a  needy  man.' 

Let  us  then,  regardless  of  what  may  be  said  of  us,  make  the 
education  of  the  youths  our  own  education. 

Lys.  I  like  your  proposal,  Socrates  ;  and  as  I  am  the  oldest, 
I  am  also  the  most  eager  to  go  to  school  with  the  boys.  Let 
me  beg  a  favour  of  you  :  come  to  my  house  to-morrow  at 
dawn,  and  we  will  advise  about  these  matters.  For  the  present, 
let  us  make  an  end  of  the  conversation. 

Soc.  I  will  come  to  you  to-morrow,  Lysimachus,  as  you 
propose,  God  willing. 



THE  Protagoras,  like  several  of  the  Dialogues  of  Plato,  is  put  into  the 
mouth  of  Socrates,  who  describes  a  conversation  which  had  taken  place 
between  himself  and  the  great  Sophist  at  the  house  of  Callias — <  the  man 
who  had  spent  more  upon  the  Sophists  than  all  the  rest  of  the  world/ 
and  in  which  the  learned  Hippias  and  the  grammarian  Prodicus  had 
also  shared,  as  well  as  Alcibiades  and  Critias,  both  of  whom  said  a 
few  words — in  the  presence  of  a  distinguished  company  consisting  of 
disciples  of  Protagoras  and  of  leading  Athenians  belonging  to  the 
Socratic  circle.  The  Dialogue  commences  with  a  request  on  the  part 
of  Hippocrates  that  Socrates  would  introduce  him  to  the  celebrated 
teacher.  He  has  come  before  the  dawn  had  risen  to  testify  his  zeal. 
Socrates  moderates  his  excitement  and  advises  him  to  find  out  'what 
Protagoras  will  make  of  him,'  before  he  becomes  his  pupil. 

They  go  together  to  the  house  of  Callias;  and  Socrates,  after  ex 
plaining  the  purpose  of  their  visit  to  Protagoras,  asks  the  question 
'  What  he  will  make  of  Hippocrates  ? '  Protagoras  answers,  '  That  he 
will  make  him  a  better  and  a  wiser  man.'  '  But  in  what  will  he  be 
better?' — Socrates  desires  to  have  a  more  precise  answer.  Protagoras 
replies,  '  That  he  will  teach  him  prudence  in  affairs  private  and  public  ; 
in  short,  the  science  or  knowledge  of  human  life.' 

This,  as  Socrates  admits,  is  a  noble  profession :  but  he  is  or  rather 
would  have  been  doubtful,  whether  such  knowledge  ^ganjjejaught,  if  Pro 
tagoras  had  not  assured  him  of  the  fact,  for  two  reasons  :  (i)  Because 
the  Athenian  people,  who  recognise  in  their  assemblies  the  distinction 
between  the  skilled  and  the  unskilled,  do  not  distinguish  between  the 
trained  politician  and  the  untrained;  (2)  Because  the  wisest  and  best 
Athenian  citizens  do  not  teach  their  sons  political  virtue.  Will  Pro 
tagoras  answer  these  objections  ? 


Protagoras  explains  his  views  in  the  form  of  aJj  apologue,  in  which, 
after  Prometheus  had  given  men  the  arts,  Zeus  is  represented  as  sending 
Hermes  to  them,  bearing  with  him  Justice  and_Reverence.  These  are 
not,  like  the  arts,  to  be  imparted  to  a  few  only,  but  all  men  are  to  be 
partakers  of  them.  Therefore  the  Athenian  people  are  right  in  dis 
tinguishing  between  the  skilled  and  unskilled  in  the  arts,  and  not 
between  skilled  and  unskilled  politicians,  (i)  For  all  men  have  the 
political  virtues  to  a  certain  degree,  and  are  obliged  to  say  that  they  have 
them,  whether  they  have  them  or  not.  A  man  would  be  thought  a 
madman  who  professed  an  art  which  he  did  not  know;  and  he  would 
be  thought  equally  a  madman  if  he  did  not  profess  a  virtue  which  he 
had  not.  (2)  And  that  the  political  virtues  can  be  taught  and  acquired, 
in  the  opinion  of  the  Athenians,  is  proved  by  the  fact  that  they  punish 
evil-doers,  with  a  view  to  prevention,  of  course — mere  retribution  is  for 
beasts,  and  not  for  men.  (3)  Again,  would  parents  who  teach  their 
sons  lesser  matters  leave  them  ignorant  of  the  common  duty  of  citizens  ? 

(4)  To   the   doubt  of  Socrates  the   best   answer    is  the   fact,   that  the 
education  of  youth  in  virtue  begins  almost  as  soon  as  they  can  speak, 
and  is  continued  by  the  state,  when  they  pass  out  of  the  parental  control. 

(5)  Nor  is  there  any  inconsistency  in  wise  and  good  fathers  having 
foolish  and  worthless  sons ;   for  the  young  do  not  learn  of  their  fathers 
only,  but  of  all  the  citizens;   and  this  is  partly  a  matter  of  chance  and 
of  natural  gifts :  the  sons  of  a  great  statesman  are  not  necessarily  great 
statesmen  any  more  than  the  sons  of  a  good  artist  are  necessarily  good 
artists.     (6)  The  error  of  Socrates  lies  in  supposing  that  there  are  no 
teachers,    when    all    men    are    teachers.     Only    a   few,  like    Protagoras 
himself,  are  better  than  others. 

Socrates  is  highly  delighted,  and  quite  satisfied  with  this  explanation 
of  Protagoras.  But  he  has  still  a  doubt  lingering  in  his  mind.  Protagoras 
has  spoken  of  the  virtues :  are  they  many,  or  one  ?  are  they  parts  of 
a  whole,  or  different  names  of  the  same  thing  ?  Protagoras  replies  that 
they  are  parts,  like  the  parts  of  a  face,  which  have  their  several  functions, 
and  no  one  part  is  like  any  other  part.  This  admission,  which  has  been 
somewhat  hastily  made,  is  now  taken  up  and  cross-examined  by  Socrates  : 

'Is  justice  just,  and  is  holiness  holy?  And  are  justice  and  holiness 
opposed  to  one  another  ? ' — '  Then  justice  is  unholy.'  Protagoras  would 
rather  say  that  justice  is  different  from  holiness,  and  yet  in  a  certain 
point  of  view  nearly  the  same.  He  does  not,  however,  escape  in  this 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  1 1 1 

way  from  the  cunning  of  Socrates,  who  inveigles  him  into  an  admission 
that  everything  has  but  one  opposite.  Foll^  for  example,  is  opposed 
to  wisdom;  and  folly  is  also^rjirjosed  to  temperance;  and  therefor^ 
temperance  and  wisr| o,m  a.rej.he  same.  And  holiness  has  been  already 
admitted  to  be  nearly  the  same  as  justice^  Temperance,  therefore,  has 
now  to  be  compared  with  justice. 

Protagoras,  whose  temper  begins  to  get  a  little  ruffled  at  the  process 
to  which  he  has  been  subjected,  is  aware  that  he  will  soon  be  compelled 
by  the  dialectics  of  Socrates  to  admit  that  the  temperate  is  the  just. 
He  therefore  defends  himself  with  his  favourite  weapon ;  that  is  to  say, 
he  makes  a  long  speech  not  much  to  the  point,  which  elicits  the 
applause  of  the  audience. 

Here  occurs  a  sort  of  interlude,  which  commences  with  a  declaration 
on  the  part  of  Socrates  that  he  cannot  follow  a  long  speech,  and  there 
fore  he  must  beg  Protagoras  to  speak  shorter.  As  Protagoras  declines 
to  accommodate  him,  he  rises  to  depart,  but  is  detained  by  Callias,  who 
thinks  him  unreasonable  in  not  allowing  Protagoras  the  liberty  which 
he  takes  himself  of  speaking  as  he  likes.  But  Alcibiades  answers 
that  the  two  cases  are  not  parallel.  For  Socrates  admits  his  inability 
to  speak  long;  will  Protagoras  in  like  manner  acknowledge  his  in 
ability  to  speak  short? 

Counsels  of  moderation  are  urged  first  in  a  few  words  by  Critias,  and 
then  by  Prodicus  in  balanced  and  sententious  language :  and  Hippias 
proposes  an  umpire.  But  who  is  to  be  the  umpire?  rejoins  Socrates; 
he  would  rather  suggest  as  a  compromise  that  Protagoras  shall  ask,  and 
he  will  answer.  To  this  Protagoras  yields  a  reluctant  assent. 

Protagoras  selects  as  the  thesis  of  his  questions  a  poem  of  Simonides 
of  Ceos,  in  which  he  professes  to  find  a  contradiction.  First  the 

poet  says, 

'  Hard  is  it  to  become  good,' 

and  then  reproaches  Pittacus  for  having  said,  '  Hard  is  it  to  be  good/ 
How  is  this  to  be  reconciled  ?  Socrates,  who  is  familiar  with  the  poem, 
is  embarrassed  at  first,  and  invokes  the  aid  of  Prodicus  the  Cean,  who 
must  come  to  the  help  of  his  countryman,  but  apparently  only  with 
the  intention  of  flattering  him  into  absurdities.  First  a  distinction  is 
drawn  between  (elvai)  to  be,  and  (yevcaGat)  to  become :  to  become  good 
is  difficult;  to  be  good  is  easy.  Then  the  word  difficult  or  hard  is  ex 
plained  to  mean  '  evil '  in  the  Cean  dialect.  To  all  this  Prodicus  assents ; 


but  when  Protagoras  reclaims,  Socrates  slily  withdraws  Prodicus  from  the 
fray,  under  the  pretence  that  his  assent  was  only  intended  to  test  the  wits 
of  his  adversary.  He  then  proceeds  to  give  another  and  more  elaborate 
explanation  of  the  whole  passage.  The  explanation  is  as  follows  : — 

The  Lacedaemonians  are  great  philosophers  (although  this  is  a  fact 
which  is  not  generally  known);  and  the  soul  of  their  philosophy  is 
brevity,  which  was  also  the  style  of  primitive  antiquity  and  of  the  seven 
sages.  Now  Pittacus  had  a  saying,  '  Hard  is  it  to  be  good : '  and 
Simonides.,-  who  was  jealous  of  the  fame  of  this  saying,  wrote  a  poem 
which  was  designed  to  controvert  it.  No,  says  he,  Pittacus;  not 
v  '  hard  to  be  good/  but  '  hard  to  become  good/  Socrates  proceeds 
to  argue  in  a  highly  impressive  manner  that  the  whole  composition 
is  intended  as  an  attack  upon  Pittacus.  This,  though  manifestly  absurd, 
is  accepted  by  the  company,  and  meets  with  the  special  approval  of 
Hippias,  who  has  however  a  favourite  interpretation  of  his  own,  which  he 
is  requested  by  Alcibiades  to  defer. 

The  argument  is  now  resumed,  not  without  some  disdainful  remarks 
of  Socrates  on  the  practice  of  introducing  the  poets,  who  ought  not 
to  be  allowed,  any  more  than  flute-girls,  to  come  into  good  society. 
Men's  own  thoughts  should  supply  them  with  the  materials  for  dis 
cussion.  A  few  soothing  flatteries  are  addressed  to  Protagoras  by  Callias 
and  Socrates,  and  then  the  old  question  is  repeated,  'Whether  the 
virtues  are  one  or  many  ? '  To  which  Protagoras  is  now  disposed  to 
reply,  that  four  out  of.  the  five  virtues  are  in  some  degree  similar ;  but 
he  still  contends'  that  the  fifth,  courage,  is  unlike  the  rest.  Socrates 
proceeds  to  Undermine  the  last  stronghold  of  the  adversary,  first  obtain 
ing  from  him  the  admission  that  all  virtue  is  in  the  highest  degree  good : 

The  courageous  are  the  confident ;  and  the  confident  are  those  who 
know  their  business  or  profession :  those  who  have  no  such  knowledge 
and  are  still  confident  are  madmen.  This  is  admitted.  Then,  says 
Socrates,  courage  is  knowledge — an  inference  which  Protagoras  evades 
by  drawing  a  futile  distinction  between  the  courageous  and  the  confident 
in  a  fluent  speech. 

I  Socrates  renews  the  attack  from  another  side :  he  would  like  to  know 
whejthcr  pleasure  not  the  only  .good,  and  pain  the  only  evil?  Pro 
tagoras  seems  to  doubt  the  morality  or  propriety  of  assenting  to  this; 
he  would  rather  say  that  'some  pleasures  are  good.  °ifilTiP  piins.arf- 
cvil/  which  is  also  the  opinion  of  the  generality  of  mankind.  What 


does  he  think  of  knowledge  ?  Does  he  agree  with  the  common  opinion- 
that  knowledge  is  overcome  by  passion  ?  or  does  he  hold  that  knowledge 
is_j)o\N££r  ?  Protagoras  agrees  that  knowledge  is  certainly  a  governing 

This,  however,  is  not  the  doctrine  of  men  in  general,  who  maintain 
that  many  who  know  what  is  best,  act  contrary  to  their  knowledge 
under  the  influence  of  pleasure.  But  this  opposition  of  good  and  evil 
is  really  the  opposition  .^-.-greater  or  _  J_^er^gLQunt_L  of 

Pleasures   are   evils  because  they  end  in    pa.in7   a,nfl  ,  pains   a,re, 
Uej:aji^Jb£)L£nd~Ji^  Thus  pleasure  is  seen  to  be  the  only 

good;  and  the  Ojil^  j^jiHis  ^^  lesser  'pleasure  to  the 

greater.  But  then  comes  in  the  illusion  of  distance.  Some  art  of  men- 
suration  is  required  in  order  to  show  us  pleasures  and  pains  in  their 
true  proportion.  This  art  of  mensuration  is  a  kind  of  knowledge,  and 
knowledge  is  thus  proved  once  more  to  be  the  governing  principle  of 
human  life,  and  ignorance  the  origin  of  all  evil  :  for_jio_oneDrefers  the 
less  pleasure  to  the  greater,  or  the  greater  pain  to  the  less,  except  from 
ignorance.  The  argument  is  dral^~l)u7"m"Tn~~mia^ 
within  a  dialogue/  conducted  by  Socrates  and  Protagoras  on  the  one 
part,  and  the  rest  of  the  world  on  the  other.  Hippias  and  Prodicus,  as 
well  as  Protagoras,  admit  the  soundness  of  the  conclusion. 

Socrates  then  applies  this  new  conclusion  to  the  case  of  courage  —  the 
only  virtue  which  still  holds  out  against  the  assaults  of  the  Socratic 
dialectic.  No  one  chooses  the  evil  or  refuses  .the  good^except  jhrough 
ignorance.  This  explains  why  cowards  refusejx^  go  to  war:  —  because 
theyjbrm..a  wrong  estim^te~pfTo6B.  and^honqur.  and  pleasure.  And 
why  are  the  courageous  willing  to  war  ?—  because  they  form  a 

right  estimate  of  pleasures  and^^ains,  .Qf,J.h,irigs4gj:riSe  and  not  terrible. 
Courage^  then  is  knowledge,  and  cowardice  is  ignorance.  And  the 
five  virtues,  which  were  originally  maintained  to  have  five  different 
natures,  after  having  been  easily  reduced  to  two  only,  at  last  coalesce 
in  one.  The  assent  of  Protagoras  to  this  last  position  is  extracted  with 
great  difficulty. 

Socrates  concludes  by  professing  his  disinterested  love  of  the  truth, 
and  remarks  on  the  singular  manner  in  which  he  and  his  adversary 
had  changed  sides.  Protagoras  began  by  asserting,  and  Socrates  by 
denying,  Xhe  teachableness  of  virtue,  and  now  the  latter  ends  by  aflirm- 

r  \  — — — i —  _ __™— — — — 

Jng^thalyirtue  is  fcnowledg^  which  is  the  most  teachable  of  all  things, 
VOL.  I.  I 


while  Protagoras  h^s  been  striving  to  -show  that  virtue  is  not 

arultm's  is  almosjt  equivalent  to  saying  that  Virtue  cannot  be  taught.  He 
is  not  satisfied  with  the  result,  and  would  like  to  renew  the  enquiry  with 
the  help  of  Protagoras  in  a  different  order,  asking  (i)  What  virtue  is, 
and  (2)  Whether  virtue  can  be  taught.  Protagoras  declines  this  offer, 
but  commends  Socrates'  earnestness  and  mode  of  discussion. 

The  Protagoras  is  often  supposed  to  be  full  of  difficulties.  These  are 
partly  imaginary  and  partly  real.  The  imaginary  ones  are  (i)  Chrono 
logical, — which  were  pointed  out  in  ancient  times  by  Athenaeus  (v.  59), 
and  are  noticed  by  Schleiermacher  and  others,  and  relate  to  the  impos 
sibility  of  all  the  persons  in  the  Dialogue  meeting  at  any  one  time, 
whether  in  the  year  425  B.C.,  or  in  any  other.  But  Plato,  like  other  writers 
of  fiction,  aims  only  at  the  probable,  and  shows  in  other  Dialogues 
(e.g.  the  Symposium  and  Republic,  and  already  in  the  Laches),  an  ex 
treme  disregard  of  the  historical  accuracy  which  is  sometimes  demanded 
of  him.  (2)  The  exact  place  of  the  Protagoras  among  the  Dialogues, 
and  the  date  of  composition,  have  also  been  much  disputed.  But  there 
are  no  criteria  which  afford  any  real  grounds  for  determining  the  date 
of  composition;  and  the  affinities  of  the  Dialogues,  when  they  are  not 
indicated  by  Plato  himself,  must  always  to  some  extent  remain  uncertain. 
(3)  There  is  another  class  of  difficulties,  which  may  be  ascribed  to  pre 
conceived  notions  of  commentators,  who  imagine  that  Protagoras  the 
Sophist  ought  always  to  be  in  the  wrong,  and  his  adversary  Socrates  in 
the  right;  or  that  in  this  or  that  passage— e.g.  in  the  explanation  of 
good  as  pleasure— Plato  is  inconsistent  with  himself;  or  that  the  Dia 
logue  fails  in  unity,  and  has  not  a  proper  beginning,  middle,  and  ending. 
They  seem  to  forget  that  Plato  is  a  dramatic  writer  who  throws  his 
thoughts  into  both  sides  of  the  argument,  and  certainly  does  not  aim  at 
any  unity  which  is  inconsistent  with  freedom,  and  with  a  natural  or  even 
wild  manner  of  treating  his  subject ;  also  that  his  mode  of  revealing  the 
truth  is  by  lights  and  shadows,  and  far  off  and  opposing  points  of  view, 
and  not  by  dogmatic  statements  or  definite  results. 

The  real  difficulties  arise  out  of  the  extreme  subtlety  of  the  work, 
which,  as  Socrates  says  of  the  poem  of  Simonides,  is  a  most  perfect 
piece  of  art.  There  are  dramatic  contrasts  and  interests,  threads  of 
philosophy  broken  and  resumed,  satirical  reflections  on  mankind,  veils 
thrown  over  truths  which  are  lightly  suggested,  and  all  woven  together 
in  a  single  design,  and  moving  towards  one  end.  xx 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  1 1 5 

In  the  introductory  scene  Fiato  raises  the  expectation  that  a  'great 
personage'  is  about  to  appear  on  the  stage  (perhaps  with  a  further  view 
of  showing  that  he  is  destined  to  be  overthrown  by  a  greater  still,  who 
makes  no  pretensions).  Before  introducing  Hippocrates  to  him,  Socrates 
thinks  proper  to  warn  the  youth  against  the  dangers  of  '  influence,'  to 
the  invidious  nature  of  which  Protagoras  is  not  insensible.  Hippocrates 
readily  adopts  the  suggestion  of  Socrates  that  he  shall  learn  the  accom 
plishments  which  befit  an  Athenian  gentleman  of  Protagoras  and  let 
alone  his  'sophistry.'  There  is  nothing  however  in  the  introduction 
which  leads  to  the  inference  that  Plato  intended  to  blacken  the  character 
of  the  Sophists ;  he  only  makes  a  little  merry  at  their  expense. 

The  '  great  personage '  is  somewhat  ostentatious,  but  frank  and  honest. 
Pie  is  introduced  on  a  stage  which  is  worthy  of  him — at  the  house  of  the 
rich  Callias,  in  which  are  congregated  the  noblest  and  wisest  of  the 
Athenians.  He  considers  openness  to  be  the  best  policy,  and  par 
ticularly  mentions  his  own  liberal  mode  of  dealing  with  his  pupils, 
as  if  in  answer  to  the  favourite  accusation  of  the  Sophists  that  they 
received  pay.  He  is  remarkable  for  the  good  temper  which  he  exhibits 
throughout  the  discussion  under  the  trying  and  often  sophistical 
cross-examination  of  Socrates.  Although  once  or  twice  ruffled,  and 
reluctant  to  continue  the  discussion,  he  parts  company  on  perfectly 
good  terms,  and  appears  to  be,  as  he  says  of  himself,  the  '  least  jealous 
of  mankind/ 

//  Nor  is  there  anything  in  the  sentiments  of  Protagoras  which  impairs 
this  pleasing  impression  of  the  grave  and  weighty  old  man.  His  real 
defect  is  that  he  is  inferior  to  Socrates  in  dialectics.  The  opposition 
between  him  and  Socrates  is  not  the  opposition  of  good  and  bad,  true 
and  false,  but  of  the  old  art  of  rhetoric  and  the  new  science  of  interroga 
tion  and  argument;  also  of  the  irony  of  Socrates  and  the  self-assertion 
of  the  Sophists.  There  is  quite  as  much  truth  on  the  side  of  Protagoras 
as  of  Socrates ;  but  the  truth  of  Protagoras  is  based  on  common  sense 
and  common  maxims  of  morality,  while  that  of  Socrates  is  paradoxical 
or  transcendental,  and  though  full  of  meaning  and  insight,  hardly  intel 
ligible  to  the  rest  of  mankind.  Here  as  elsewhere  is  the  usual  contrast 
between  the  Sophists  representing  average  public  opinion  and  Socrates 
seeking  for  increased  clearness  and  unity  of  ideas.  But  to  a  great 
extent  Protagoras  has  the  best  of  the  argument  and  represents  the 
better  mind  of  man. 

I  2 


For  example:  (i)  one  of  the  noblest  statements  to  be  found  in  anti 
quity  about  the  preventive  nature  of  punishment  is  put  into  his  mouth ; 
(2)  he  is  clearly  right  also  in  maintaining  that  virtue  can  be  taught 
(which  Socrates  himself,  at  the  end  of  the  Dialogue,  is  disposed  to  con 
cede)  ;  and  also  (3)  in  his  explanation  of  the  phenomenon  that  good 
fathers  have  bad  sons ;  (4)  he  is  right  also  in  observing  that  the  virtues 
are  not  like  the  arts,  gifts  or  attainments  of  special  individuals,  but  the 
common  property  of  all :  this,  which  in  all  ages  has  been  the  strength 
and  weakness  of  ethics  and  politics,  is  deeply  seated  in  human  nature ; 
(5)  there  is  a  sort  of  half  truth  in  the  notion  that  all  civilized  men  are 
teachers  of  virtue ;  and  more  than  a  half  truth  (6)  in  ascribing  to  man, 
who  in  his  outward  conditions  is  more  helpless  than  the  other  animals, 
the  power  of  self-improvement  ;  (7)  the  religious  allegory  should  be 
noticed,  in  which  the  arts  are  said  to  be  given  by  Prometheus  (who  stole 
them),  whereas  justice  and  reverence  and  the  political  virtues  could  only 
be  imparted  by  Zeus ;  (8)  in  the  latter  part  of  the  Dialogue,  when 
Socrates  is  arguing  that  *  pleasure  is  the  only  good/  Protagoras  deems 
it  more  in  accordance  with  his  character  to  maintain  that  '  some  plea 
sures  only  are  good ;'  and  admits  that  '  he,  above  all  other  men,  is 
bound  to  say  "that  wisdom  and  knowledge  are  the  highest  of  human 
things."  ' 

There  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  in  all  this  Plato  is  depicting  an 
imaginary  Protagoras ;  he  seems  to  be  showing  us  the  teaching  of  the 
Sophists  under  the  milder  aspect  under  which  he  once  regarded  them. 
Nor  is  there  any  reason  to  doubt  that  Socrates  is  equally  an  historical 
character,  paradoxical,  ironical,  tiresome,  but  seeking  for  the  unity  of 
virtue  and  knowledge  as  for  a  precious  treasure ;  willing  to  rest  this 
even  on  a  calculation  of  pleasure,  and  irresistible  here,  as  everywhere 
in  Plato,  in  his  intellectual  superiority. 

The  aim  of  Socrates,  and  of  the  Dialogue,  is  to  show  the  unity  of 
virtue.  In  the  determination  of  this  question  the  identity  of  virtue  and 
knowledge  is  found  to  be  involved.  But  if  virtue  and  knowledge  are 
one,  then  virtue  can  be  taught ;  the  end  of  the  Dialogue  returns  to  the 
beginning.  Had  Protagoras  been  allowed  by  Plato  to  make  the  Aris 
totelian  distinction,  and  say  that  virtue  is  not  knowledge,  but  is  accom 
panied  with  knowledge;  or  to  point  out  with  Aristotle  that  the  same 
quality  may  have  more  than  one  opposite ;  or  with  Plato  himself  in  the 
Phaedo  to  deny  that  good  is  a  mere  exchange  of  a  greater  pleasure  for 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  i  j  7 

a  less — the  unity  of  virtue  and  the  identity  of  virtue  and  knowledge 
would  have  required  to  be  proved  by  other  arguments. 

The  victory  of  Socrates  over  Protagoras  is  in  every  way  complete 
when  their  minds  are  fairly  brought  together.  Protagoras  falls  before 
him  after  two  or  three  blows.  Socrates  partially  gains  his  object  in  the 
first  part,  and  completely  in  the  second.  Nor  does  he  appear  at  any 
disadvantage  when  subjected  to  '  the  question '  by  Protagoras.  He 
succeeds  in  making  his  two  '  friends/  Prodicus  and  Hippias,  ludicrous 
by  the  way ;  he  also  makes  a  long  speech  in  defence  of  the  poem  of 
Simonides,  after  the  manner  of  the  Sophists,  showing,  as  Alcibiades 
says,  that  he  is  only  pretending  to  have  a  bad  memory.  Against  the 
authority  of  the  poets  with  whom  Protagoras  has  ingeniously  identified 
himself  at  the  commencement  of  the  Dialogue,  Socrates  sets  up  the 
proverbial  philosophers  and  those  masters  of  brevity  the  Lacedaemo 
nians.  The  poets,  the  Laconizers,  and  Protagoras  are  satirized  at  the 
same  time. 

Not  having  the  whole  of  this  poem  before  us,  it  is  impossible  for  us 
to  answer  certainly  the  question  of  Protagoras,  how  the  two  passages 
of  Simonides  are  to  be  reconciled.  We  can  only  follow  the  indications 
given  by  Plato  himself.  But  it  seems  likely  that  the  reconcilement 
offered  by  Socrates  is  only  a  caricature  of  the  methods  of  interpretation 
which  were  practised  by  the  Sophists — for  the  following  reasons:  (i) 
The  transparent  irony  of  the  previous  interpretations  given  by  Socrates. 
(2)  The  ludicrous  opening  of  the  speech  in  which  the  Lacedaemonians 
are  described  as  the  true  philosophers,  and  Laconic  brevity  as  the  true 
form  of  philosophy,  evidently  with  an  allusion  to  Protagoras'  long 
speeches.  (3)  The  manifest  futility  and  absurdity  of  the  explanation 
of  efjiwv  €7raLvr]fiL  dXa&W,  which  is  hardly  consistent  with  the  rational  inter 
pretation  of  the  rest  of  the  poem.  The  opposition  of  eu>ai  and  yevea-dat 
seems  also  intended  to  express  the  rival  doctrines  of  Socrates  and  Pro 
tagoras,  and  is  a  sort  of  facetious  commentary  on  their  differences. 

(4)  The  general  treatment  in  Plato  both  of  the  Poets  and  the  Sophists, 
who  are  their  interpreters,  and  whom  he  delights  to  identify  with  them. 

(5)  The  depreciating  spirit  in  which  Socrates  speaks  of  the  introduction 
of  the  poets  as  a  substitute  for  original  conversation,  which  is  intended 
to  contrast  with  Protagoras'  exaltation  of  the  study  of  them — this  again 
is  hardly  consistent  with  the  serious  defence  of  Simonides.      (6)  The 
marked  approval  of  Hippias,  who  is  supposed  at  once  to  catch  the  familiar 


sound,  just  as  in  the  previous  conversation  Prodicus  is  represented 
as  ready  to  accept  any  distinctions  of  language  however  absurd.  At 
the  same  time  Hippias  is  desirous  of  substituting  a  new  interpretation 
of  his  own ;  as  if  the  words  might  really  be  made  to  mean  anything, 
and  were  only  to  be  regarded  as  affording  a  field  for  the  ingenuity  of 
the  interpreter. 

This  curious  passage  is,  therefore,  to  be  regarded  as  Plato's  satire 
on  the  tedious  and  hypercritical  arts  of  interpretation  which  prevailed 
in  his  own  day,  and  may  be  compared  with  his  condemnation  of  the 
same  arts  when  applied  to  mythology  in  the  Phaedrus,  and  with  his 
other  parodies,  e.  g.  with  the  second  speech  in  the  Phaedrus  and  with 
the  Menexenus.  Several  lesser  touches  of  satire  appear  in  it,  e.  g.  the 
claim  of  philosophy  advanced  for  the  Lacedaemonians,  which  is  a  parody 
of  the  claims  advanced  for  the  Poets  by  Protagoras ;  the  mistake  of  the 
Laconizing  set  in  supposing  that  the  Lacedaemonians  are  a  great  nation 
because  they  bruise  their  ears ;  the  far-fetched  notion,  which  is  '  really 
too  bad,'  that  Simonides  uses  the  Lesbian  (?)  word,  eVatV^t,  because  he 
is  addressing  a  Lesbian.  The  whole  may  also  be  considered  as  a  satire 
on  those  who  spin  pompous  theories  out  of  nothing. 

All  the  interests  and  contrasts  of  character  in  a  great  dramatic  work 
like  the  Protagoras  are  not  easily  exhausted.  The  impressiveness  of 
the  scene  should  not  be  lost  upon  us,  or  the  gradual  substitution  of 
Socrates  in  the  second  part  for  Protagoras  in  the  first.  The  characters 
to  whom  we  are  introduced  at  the  beginning  of  the  Dialogue  all  play 
a  part  more  or  less  conspicuous  towards  the  end.  There  is  Alcibiades, 
who  is  compelled  by  the  necessity  of  his  nature  to  be  a  partisan,  lending 
effectual  aid  to  Socrates ;  there  is  Critias  assuming  the  tone  of  imparti 
ality  ;  Callias,  here  as  always  inclining  to  the  Sophists,  but  eager  for  any 
intellectual  repast ;  Prodicus,  who  finds  an  opportunity  for  displaying 
his  distinctions  of  language,  which  are  valueless  and  pedantic,  because 
they  are  not  based  on  dialectic ;  Hippias,  who  has  previously  exhibited  his 
superficial  knowledge  of  natural  philosophy,  to  which,  as  in  both  the  Dia 
logues  called  by  his  name,  he  now  adds  the  profession  of  an  interpreter 
of  the  Poets.  The  two  latter  personages  have  been  already  damaged 
by  the  mock  sublime  description  of  them  in  the  introduction.  It  may 
be  remarked  that  Protagoras  is  consistently  presented  to  us  throughout  I 
as  the  teacher  of  moral  and  political  virtue  ;  there  is  no  allusion  to  the  I 
theories  of  sensation  which  are  attributed  to  him  in  the  Theaetetus  and 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  l :  9 

elsewhere,  or  to  his  denial  of  the  existence  of  the  gods  ;  he  is  the  reli 
gious  rather  than  the  irreligious  teacher  in  this  Dialogue.  Also  it  may 
be  observed  that  Socrates  shows  him  as  much  respect  as  is  consistent 
with  his  own  ironical  character  ;  he  admits  that  the  dialectic  which 
has  overthrown  Protagoras  has  carried  himself  round  to  a  conclusion 
opposed  to  his  first  thesis.  The  force  of  argument,  not  Socrates  or 
Protagoras,  has  won  the  day. 

But  is  Socrates  serious  in  maintaining  (i)  that  virtue  cannot  be  taught  ; 
(2)  that  the  virtues  are  one;  (3)  that  virtue  is  the  knowledge  of  plea 
sures  and  pains  present  and  future  ?  These  propositions  to  us  have 
an  appearance  of  paradox— they  are  really  moments  or  aspects  of  the 
truth  by  the  help  of  which  we  pass  from  the  old  conventional  morality 
to  a  higher  conception  of  virtue  and  knowledge.  That  virtue  cannot 
be  taught  is  a  paradox  of  the  same  sort  as  the  profession  of  Socrates 
that  he  knew  nothing.  Plato  means  to  say  that  virtue  is  not  brought 
to  a  man,  but  must  be  drawn  out  of  him ;  and  cannot  be  taught  by 
rhetorical  discourses  or  citations  from  the  poets.  The  second  question, 
whether  the  virtues  are  one  or  many,  though  at  first  sight  distinct,  is 
really  a  part  of  the  same  subject ;  for  if  the  virtues  are  to  be  taught,i 
they  must  be  i^dudblejp^  comm.oja,  principle  ;  and  this  common  prin-j 
ciple  is  found  to  be  knowledge.  Here,  as  Aristotle  remarks,  Socrates 
and  Plato  outstep  the  truth — they  make  a  part  of  virtue  into  the 
whole.  Further,  the  nature  of  this  knowledge,  which  is  assumed  to  be  a 
knowledge  of  pleasures  and  pains,  appears  to  us  too  superficial  and  at 
variance  with  the  spirit  of  Plato  himself.  Yet  in  this  Plato  is  only  fol 
lowing  the  historical  Socrates  as  he  is  depicted  to  us  in  Xenophon's 
Memorabilia.  Like  Socrates,  he  finds  on  the  surface  of  human  life  one 
common  bond  by  which  the  virtues  are  united, — their  tendency  to  pro 
duce  happiness — though  such  a  principle  is  afterwards  repudiated  by 

It  remains  to  be   considered  in  what  relation  the  Protagoras  stands 


to  the  other  Dialogues  of  Plato.  That  it  is  one  of  the  earlier  or  purely 
Socratic  works — perhaps  the  last,  as  it  is  certainly  the  greatest  of 
them — is  indicated  by  the  absence  of  all  allusion  to  the  doctrine  of 
reminiscence;  and  also  probably  by  the  different  attitude  assumed  to 
wards  the  teaching  and  persons  of  the  Sophists  in  some  of  the  later 
Dialogues.  The  Charmides,  Laches,  Lysis,  all  touch  on  the  question 
of  the  relation  of  knowledge  to  virtue,  and  may  be  regarded,  if  not  as 


preliminary  studies  or  sketches  of  the  more  important  work,  at  any  rate 
as  closely  connected  with  it.  The  lo  and  the  Lesser  Hippias  contain 
discussions  of  the  Poets,  which  offer  a  parallel  to  the  ironical  criticism 
of  Simonides,  and  are  conceived  in  a  similar  spirit.  The  affinity  of  the' 
Protagoras  to  the  Meno  is  more  doubtful.  For  there,  although  the  same 
question  is  discussed,  '  whether  virtue  can  be  taught/  and  the  relation 
of  Meno  to  the  Sophists  is  much  the  same  as  that  of  Hippocrates,  the 
answer  to  the  question  is  supplied  out  of  the  doctrine  of  ideas ;  the  real 
Socrates  is  already  passing  into  the  Platonic  one.  At  a  later  stage  of 
the  Platonic  philosophy  we  shall  find  that  both  the  paradox  and  the 
solution  of  it  appear  to  have  been  retracted.  The  Phaedo,  the  Gorgias, 
and  the  Philebus  offer  further  corrections  of  the  teaching  of  the  Prota 
goras  ;  in  all  of  them  the  doctrine  that  virtue  is  pleasure,  or  that  plea 
sure  is  the  chief  or  only  good,  is  distinctly  renounced. 

Thus  after  many  preparations  and  oppositions,  both  of  the  characters 
of  men  and  aspects  of  the  truth,  especially  of  the  popular  and  philo 
sophical  aspect ;  and  after  many  interruptions  and  detentions  by  the 
way,  which,  as  Theodorus  says  in  the  Theaetetus,  are  quite  as  agree 
able  as  the  argument,  we  arrive  at  the  great  Socratic  thesis  that  virtue 
is  knowledge.  This  is  an  aspect  of  the  truth  which  was  lost  almost  as 
soon  as  it  was  found  ;  and  yet  has  to  be  recovered  by  every  one  for 
himself  who  would  pass  the  limits  of  proverbial  and  popular  philosophy. 
The  moral  and  intellectual  are  always  dividing,  yet  they  must  be  reunited, 
and  in  the  highest  conception  of  them  are  inseparable.  The  thesis  of 
Socrates  is  not  merely  a  hasty  assumption,  but  may  be  also  deemed  an 
anticipation  of  some  'metaphysic  of  the  future/  in  which  the  divided 
elements  of  human  nature  are  reconciled. 



SOCRATES,  who  is    the   narrator   of  PROTAGORAS, 

the  Dialogue  to  his  Companion.  HlPPlAS,  ^  Sophists. 


ALCIBIADES.  CALLIAS,  a  wealthy  Athenian. 


SCENE  : — The  House  of  Gallias. 

Steph.  Com.  WHERE  do  you  come  from,  Socrates  ?  And  yet  I  need 
309  hardly  ask  the  question,  as  I  know  that  you  have  been  in 
chase  of  the  fair  Alcibiades.  I  saw  him  the  day  before 
yesterday  ;  and  he  had  got  a  beard  like  a  man, — and  he  is 
a  man,  as  I  may  tell  you  in  your  ear.  But  I  thought  that 
he  was  still  very  charming. 

Soc.  What  of  his  beard?  Are  you  not  of  Homer's  opinion, 
who  says1 

'  Youth  is  most  charming  when  the  beard  first  appears '  ? 

And  that  is  now  the  charm  of  Alcibiades. 

Com.  Well,  and  how  do  matters  proceed  ?  Have  you  been 
visiting  him,  and  was  he  gracious  to  you  ? 

Soc.  Yes,  I  thought  that  he  was  very  gracious  ;  and  especially 
to-day,  for  I  have  just  come  from  him,  and  he  has  been  helping 
me  in  an  argument.  But  shall  I  tell  you  a  strange  thing  ? 
Although  he  was  present,  I  never  attended  to  him,  and  several 
times  he  quite  passed  out  of  my  mind. 

Com.  What  is  the  meaning  of  this  ?  Has  anything  happened 
between  you  and  him  ?  For  surely  you  cannot  have  discovered 
a  fairer  love  than  he  is  ;  certainly  not  in  this  city  of  Athens. 

Soc.   Yes,  much  fairer. 

Com.   What  do  you  mean — a  citizen  or  a  foreigner? 

1  II.  xxiv.  348. 


Soc.   A  foreigner. 

Com.    Of  what  country  ? 

Soc.    Of  Abdera. 

Com.  And  is  this  stranger  really  in  your  opinion  fairer  than 
the  son  of  Cleinias  ? 

Soc.    And  is  not  the  wisest  always  fairer,  sweet  friend  ? 

Com.  But  have  you  really  met,  Socrates,  with  some  wise  one  ? 

Soc.  Yes  ;  I  would  say  rather,  with  the  wisest  of  all  living 
men,  if  you  are  willing  to  accord  that  title  to  Protagoras. 

Com.  What !  Do  you  mean  to  say  that  Protagoras  is  in 
Athens  ? 

Soc.    Yes  ;  he  has  been  here  two  days. 

Com.    And  do  you  just  come  from  an  interview  with  him? 

Soc.    Yes;  and  I  have  heard  and  said  many  things.  310 

Com.  Then,  if  you  have  no  engagement,  suppose  that  you  sit 
down  and  tell  me  what  passed,  and  my  attendant  here  shall 
give  up  his  place  to  you. 

Soc.    To  be  sure  ;  and  I  shall  be  grateful  to  you  for  listening. 

Com.    Thank  you,  too,  for  telling  us. 

Soc.    That  is  thank  you  twice  over.     Listen  then  :— 

Last  night,  or  rather  very  early  this  morning,  Hippocrates, 
the  son  of  Apollodorus  and  the  brother  of  Phason,  gave  a 
tremendous  thump  with  his  staff  at  my  door ;  some  one  opened 
to  him,  and  he  came  rushing  in  and  bawled  out  :  Socrates,  are 
you  awake  or  asleep  ? 

I  knew  his  voice,  and  said:  Hippocrates,  is  that  you?  and 
do  you  bring  any  news? 

Good  news,  he  said  ;  nothing  but  good. 

Very  good,  but  what  news?  and  why  have  you  come  hither 
at  this  unearthly  hour  ? 

He  drew  nearer  to  me  and  said  :  Protagoras  is  come. 

Yes,  I  replied  ;  he  came  two  days  ago  :  have  you  only  just 
heard  of  his  arrival  ? 

Yes,  by  the  gods,  he  said  ;    I  heard  yesterday  evening. 

At  the  same  time  he  felt  for  the  truckle-bed,  and  sat  down 
at  my  feet,  and  then  he  said  :  Yesterday  quite  late  in  the 
evening,  on  my  return  from  Oenoe  whither  I  had  gone  in 
pursuit  of  my  runaway  slave  Satyrus,  of  whose  escape  I  meant 
to  have  told  you,  if  some  other  matter  had  not  come  in 


the  way  ; — on  my  return,  when  we  had  done  supper  and  were 
about  to  retire  to  rest,  my  brother  said  to  me :  Protagoras 
is  come.  I  was  going  to  you  at  once,  and  then  I  thought  that 
the  night  was  far  spent.  But  the  moment  sleep  left  me  after 
my  toil,  I  got  up  and  came  hither  direct. 

I,  who  knew  the  very  courageous  madness  of  the  man,  said  : 
What  is  the  matter?  Has  Protagoras  robbed  you  of  anything? 

He  replied,  laughing :  Yes,  indeed  he  has,  Socrates,  of  the 
wisdom  which  he  keeps  to  himself. 

But,  surely,  I  said,  if  you  give  him  money,  and  make  friends 
with  him,  he  will  make  you  as  wise  as  he  is  himself. 

Would  to  heaven,  he  replied,  that  he  would !  He  might 
take  all  that  I  have,  and  all  that  my  friends  have,  if  he  would. 
But  that  is  why  I  have  come  to  you  now,  in  order  that  you 
may  speak  to  him  on  my  behalf ;  for  I  am  young,  and  also  I 
have  never  seen  nor  heard  him  ;  (when  he  visited  Athens  before 
1 1  I  was  but  a  child  ;)  and  all  men  praise  him,  Socrates,  as  being 
the  most  accomplished  of  speakers.  There  is  no  reason  why 
we  should  not  go  to  him  at  once,  and  then  we  shall  find  him 
at  home.  He  lodges,  as  I  hear,  with  Callias  the  son  of  Hip- 
ponicus  :  let  us  start. 

I  replied  :  Not  yet,  my  good  friend  ;  the  hour  is  too  early. 
But  let  us  rise  and  take  a  turn  in  the  court  and  wrait  about 
there  until  day-break  ;  when  the  day  breaks,  then  we  will  go. 
For  Protagoras  is  generally  at  home,  and  we  shall  be  sure  to 
find  him  ;  never  fear. 

Upon  this  we  got  up  and  walked  about  in  the  court,  and 
I  thought  that  I  would  make  trial  of  the  strength  of  his  reso 
lution.  So  I  examined  him  and  put  questions  to  him.  Tell 
me,  Hippocrates,  I  said,  as  you  are  going  to  Protagoras,  and 
will  be  paying  your  money  to  him,  what  is  he  to  whom  you 
arc  going  ?  and  what  will  he  make  of  you  ?  If,  for  example,  you 
had  thought  of  going  to  Hippocrates  of  Cos,  the  Asclepiad,  and 
were  about  to  give  him  your  money,  and  some  one  had  said  to 
you  :  You  are  paying  money  to  your  namesake  Hippocrates,  O 
Hippocrates  ;  tell  me,  what  is  he  that  you  give  him  money  ? 
how  would  you  have  answered? 

I  should  say,  he  replied,  that  I  give  money  to  him  as  a 


And  what  will  he  make  of  you  ? 

A  physician,  he  said. 

And  if  you  had  resolved  to  go  to  Polycleitus  the  Argive,  or 
Pheidias  the  Athenian,  and  intended  to  give  them  money,  and 
some  one  had  asked  you  :  What  are  Polycleitus  and  Pheidias  ? 
and  why  do  you  give  them  this  money?  how  would  you  have 
answered  ? 

I  should  have  answered,  as  being  statuaries. 

And  what  will  they  make  of  you  ? 

A  statuary,  of  course. 

Well  now,  I  said,  you  and  I  are  going  to  Protagoras,  and  we 
are  ready  to  pay  him  money  for  you.  If  our  own  means  are 
sufficient,  and  we  can  gain  him  with  these,  we  shall  be  only  too 
glad  ;  but  if  not,  then  we  are  to  spend  your  friends'  money  as 
well.  Now  suppose,  that  while  we  are  thus  enthusiastically 
pursuing  our  object  some  one  were  to  say  to  us  :  Tell  me, 
Socrates,  and  you  Hippocrates,  what  is  Protagoras  that  you 
are  going  to  pay  him  money?  how  should  we  answer?  I  know 
that  Pheidias  is  a  sculptor,  and  that  Homer  is  a  poet  ;  but 
what  appellation  is  given  to  Protagoras  ?  how  is  he  designated  ? 

They  call  him  a  Sophist,  Socrates,  he  replied. 

Then  we  are  going  to  pay  our  money  to  him  in  the  character 
of  a  Sophist  ? 


But  suppose  a  person  were  to  ask  this  further  question  :  And 
how  about  yourself?     What  will  Protagoras  make  of  you,  if  you  312 
go  to  see  him  ? 

He  answered,  with  a  blush  upon  his  face  (for  the  day  was 
just  beginning  to  dawn,  so  that  I  could  see  him) :  Unless  this 
differs  in  some  way  from  the  former  instances,  I  suppose  that 
he  will  make  a  Sophist  of  me. 

And  are  you  not,  in  sober  earnest,  ashamed,  I  said,  at 
having  to  appear  before  the  Hellenes  in  the  character  of  a 
Sophist  ? 

Indeed,  Socrates,  if  I  must  speak  my  thoughts,  I  am. 

But  why  do  you  assume,  Hippocrates,  that  the  instruction  of 
Protagoras  is  of  this  nature?  and  why  may  you  not  learn  of 
him  in  the  same  way  that  you  learned  the  arts  of  the  gramma 
rian,  or  musician,  or  trainer,  not  with  the  view  of  making  any  of 


them  a  profession,  but  only  as  a  part  of  education,  and  because 
a  private  gentleman  and  freeman  ought  to  know  them? 

Just  so,  he  said ;  and  that,  in  my  opinion,  is  a  far  truer 
account  of  the  teaching  of  Protagoras. 

I  said  :   I  wonder  whether  you  know  what  you  are  doing? 
And  what  am  I  doing  ? 

You  are  going  to  commit  your  soul  to  the  care  of  a  man 
whom  you  call  a  Sophist.  And  yet  I  hardly  think  that  you 
know  what  a  Sophist  is  ;  and  if  not,  then  you  do  not  even 
know  whether  you  are  committing  your  soul  to  good  or  to 

I  certainly  think  that  I  do  know,  he  replied. 
Then  tell  me,  what  do  you  imagine  that  he  is  ? 
I  take  him  to  be  one  who  is  wise  and  knowing,  he  replied, 
as  his  name  implies. 

And  might  you  not,  I  said,  affirm  this  of  the  painter  and  of 
the  carpenter  also  ;  are  not  they,  too,  wise  and  knowing  ?  But 
suppose  a  person  were  to  ask  us  :  In  what  are  the  painters 
wise  ?  We  should  answer  :  In  what  relates  to  the  making  of 
likenesses,  and  similarly  of  other  things.  And  if  he  were 
further  to  ask :  What  is  the  wisdom  of  the  Sophist,  and  what 
is  the  manufacture  over  which  he  presides  ?  how  should  we 
answer  him  ? 

How  should  we  answer  him,  Socrates  ?  What  other  answer 
could  there  be  but  that  he  presides  over  the  art  which  makes 
men  eloquent  ? 

Yes,  I  replied,  that  is  very  likely  true,  but  not  enough  ;  for 
in  the  answer  a  further  question  is  involved  :  Of  what  does 
the  Sophist  make  a  man  talk  eloquently?  The  player  on  the 
lyre  may  be  supposed  to  make  a  man  talk  eloquently  about 
that  which  he  makes  him  understand,  that  is  about  playing 
the  lyre.  Is  not  that  true? 

Then    about   what    does   the    Sophist    make   him    eloquent  ? 
Must  not  he  make  him  eloquent  in  that  which  he  understands  ? 
Yes,  that  may  be  assumed. 

And  what  is  that  which  the  Sophist  knows  and  makes  his 
disciple  know  ? 

Indeed,  he  said,  I  cannot  tell. 


Then  I  proceeded  to  say:  Well,  but  are  you  aware  of  thesis 
danger  which  you  are  incurring  ?  If  you  were  going  to  commit 
your  body  to  some  one,  who  might  do  good  or  harm  to  it, 
would  you  not  carefully  consider  and  ask  the  opinion  of  your 
friends  and  kindred,  and  deliberate  many  days  as  to  whether 
you  should  give  him  the  care  of  your  body  ?  But  when  the  soul 
is  in  question,  which  you  hold  to  be  of  far  more  value  than  the 
body,  and  upon  the  good  or  evil  of  which  depends  the  well- 
being  of  your  all — about  this  you  never  consulted  either  with 
your  father  or  with  your  brother  or  with  any  one  of  us  who  are 
your  companions.  But  no  sooner  does  this  foreigner  appear, 
than  you  instantly  commit  your  soul  to  his  keeping.  In  the 
evening,  as  you  say,  you  hear  of  him,  and  in  the  morning  you 
go  to  him,  never  deliberating,  or  taking  the  opinion  of  any  one 
as  to  whether  you  ought  to  intrust  yourself  to  him  or  not ; — you 
have  quite  made  up  your  mind  that  you  will  be  a  pupil  of  Pro 
tagoras,  and  are  prepared  to  expend  all  the  property  of  yourself 
and  of  your  friends  in  carrying  out  at  any  price  this  determina 
tion,  although,  as  you  admit,  you  do  not  know  him,  and  have 
never  spoken  with  him  :  and  you  call  him  a  Sophist,  but  are 
manifestly  ignorant  of  what  a  Sophist  is  ;  and  yet  you  are  going 
to  commit  yourself  to  his  keeping. 

When  he  heard  me  say  this  he  replied  :  That  I  suppose, 
Socrates,  is  the  conclusion  which  I  must  draw  from  your 

I  proceeded  :  Is  not  a  Sophist,  Hippocrates,  one  who  deals 
wholesale  or  retail  in  the  food  of  the  soul  ?  To  me  that 
appears  to  be  the  sort  of  man. 

And  what,  Socrates,  is  the  food  of  the  soul  ? 
Surely,  I  said,  knowledge  is  the  food  of  the  soul  ;  and  we 
must  take  care,  my  friend,  that  the  Sophist  does  not  deceive 
us  when  he  praises  what  he  sells,  like  the  dealers  wholesale  or 
retail  who  sell  the  food  of  the  body ;  for  they  praise  indis 
criminately  all  their  goods,  without  knowing  what  are  really 
beneficial  or  hurtful  :  neither  do  their  customers  know,  with 
the  exception  of  any  trainer  or  physician  who  may  happen  to 
buy  of  them.  In  like  manner  those  who  carry  about  the  wares 
of  knowledge,  and  make  the  round  of  the  cities,  and  sell  or 
retail  them  to  any  customer  who  is  in  want  of  them,  praise 


them  all  alike  ;  though  I  should  not  wonder,  O  my  friend,  if 
many  of  them  were  really  ignorant  of  their  effect  upon  the 
soul  ;  and  their  customers  equally  ignorant,  unless  he  who  buys 
of  them  happens  to  be  a  physician  of  the  soul.  If,  therefore, 
you  have  understanding  of  what  is  good  and  evil,  you  may 
safely  buy  knowledge  of  Protagoras  or  of  any  one  ;  but  if  not, 
14  then,  O  my  friend,  pause,  and  do  not  hazard  your  dearest 
interests  at  a  game  of  chance.  For  there  is  far  greater  peril  in 
buying  knowledge  than  in  buying  meat  and  drink  :  the  one 
you  purchase  of  the  wholesale  or  retail  dealer,  and  carry  them 
away  in  other  vessels,  and  before  you  receive  them  into  the 
body  as  food,  you  may  deposit  them  at  home  and  call  in  any 
experienced  friend  who  knows  what  is  good  to  be  eaten  or 
drunken,  and  what  not,  and  how  much,  and  when  ;  and  hence 
the  danger  of  purchasing  them  is  not  so  great.  But  when  you 
buy  the  wares  of  knowledge  you  cannot  carry  them  away  in 
another  vessel  ;  they  have  been  sold  to  you,  and  you  must  take 
them  into  the  soul  and  go  your  way,  either  greatly  harmed 
or  greatly  benefited  by  the  lesson  ;  and  therefore  we  should 
deliberate  and  take  counsel  with  our  elders  ;  for  we  are  still 
young — too  young  to  determine  such  a  matter.  And  now  let 
us  go,  as  we  were  intending,  and  hear  Protagoras  ;  and  when 
we  have  heard  what  he  has  to  say,  we  may  take  counsel  of 
others  ;  for  not  only  is  Protagoras  at  the  house  of  Callias,  but 
there  is  Hippias  of  Elis,  and,  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  Prodicus  of 
Ceos,  and  several  other  wise  men. 

To  this  we  agreed,  and  proceeded  on  our  way  until  we 
reached  the  vestibule  of  the  house ;  and  there  we  stopped  in 
order  to  conclude  a  dispute  which  had  arisen  as  we  were  going 
along  ;  and  we  stood  talking  in  the  vestibule  until  we  had 
finished  and  corne  to  an  understanding.  And  I  think  that  the 
door-keeper,  who  was  a  eunuch,  and  who  was  probably  annoyed 
at  the  great  inroad  of  the  Sophists,  must  have  heard  us  talking. 
At  any  rate,  when  we  knocked  at  the  door,  and  he  opened  and 
saw  us,  he  grumbled  :  They  are  Sophists— he  is  not  at  home  ; 
and  instantly  gave  the  door  a  hearty  bang  with  both  his  hands. 
Again  we  knocked,  and  he  answered  without  opening  :  Did 
you  not  hear  me  say  that  he  is  not  at  home,  fellows  ?  But,  my 
friend,  I  said,  you  need  not  be  alarmed  ;  for  we  are  not 


Sophists,  and  we  are  not  come  to  see  Callias,  but  we  want  to 
see  Protagoras  ;  and  I  must  request  you  to  announce  us.  At 
last,  after  a  good  deal  of  difficulty,  the  man  was  persuaded  to 
open  the  door. 

When  we  entered,  we  found  Protagoras  taking  a  walk  in  the 
portico  ;  and  next  to  him,  on  one  side,  were  walking  Callias, 
the  son  of  Hipponicus,  and  Paralus,  the  son  of  Pericles,  who, 
by  the  mother's  side,  is  his  half-brother,  and  Charmides,  the  315 
son  of  Glaucon.  On  the  other  side  of  him  were  Xanthippus, 
the  other  son  of  Pericles,  Philippides,  the  son  of  Philomelus  ; 
also  Antimoerus  of  Mende,  who  of  all  the  disciples  of  Pro 
tagoras  is  the  most  famous,  and  intends  to  make  sophistry  his 
profession.  A  train  of  listeners  followed  him;  the  greater 
part  of  them  appeared  to  be  foreigners,  whom  Protagoras  had 
brought  with  him  out  of  the  various  cities  through  which  he 
journeyed,  he,  like  Orpheus,  attracting  them  by  his  voice,  and 
they  following.  I  should  mention  also  that  there  were  some 
Athenians  in  the  company.  Nothing  delighted  me  more  than 
the  precision  of  their  movements  :  they  never  got  into  his  way 
at  all  ;  but  when  he  and  those  who  were  with  him  turned  back, 
then  the  band  of  listeners  parted  regularly  on  either  side  ;  he 
was  always  in  front,  and  they  wheeled  round  and  took  their 
places  behind  him  in  perfect  order. 

After  him,  as  Homer  says  \  '  I  lifted  up  my  eyes  and  saw ' 
Hippias  the  Elean  sitting  in  the  opposite  portico  on  a  chair  of 
state,  and  around  him  were  seated  on  benches  Eryximachus, 
the  son  of  Acumenus,  and  Phaedrus  the  Myrrhinusian,  and 
Andron  the  son  of  Androtion,  and  there  were  strangers  whom 
he  had  brought  with  him  from  his  native  city  of  Elis,  and 
some  others  :  they  were  putting  to  Hippias  certain  physical  and 
astronomical  questions,  and  he,  ex  cathedra,  was  determining 
their  several  questions  to  them,  and  discoursing  of  them. 

Also,  'my  eyes  beheld  Tantalus2;'  for  Prodicus  the  Cean 
was  at  Athens  :  he  had  been  lodged  in  a  room  which,  in  the 
days  of  Hipponicus,  was  a  storehouse  ;  but,  as  the  house  was 
full,  Callias  had  cleared  this  out  and  made  the  room  into  a 
guest-chamber.  Now  Prodicus  was  still  in  bed,  wrapped  up  in 

1  Od.  xi.  601  foil.  2  Od.  xi.  582.      • 


sheepskins  and  bedclothes,  of  which  he  seemed  to  have  a  great 
heap  ;  and  there  were  sitting  by  him  on  the  couches  near, 
Pausanias  of  the  deme  of  Ceramcis,  and  with  Pausanias  was  a 
youth  quite  young,  who  is  certainly  remarkable  for  his  good 
looks,  and,  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  is  also  of  a  fair  and  gentle 
nature.  I  thought  that  I  heard  him  called  Agathon,  and  my 
suspicion  is  that  he  is  the  beloved  of  Pausanias.  There  was  this 
youth,  and  also  there  were  the  two  Adeimantuses,  one  the  son 
of  Cepis,  and  the  other  of  Leucolophides,  and  some  others.  I 
was  very  anxious  to  hear  what  Prodicus  was  saying,  for  he 
seemed  to  me  to  be  an  extraordinarily  wise  and  divine  man  ; 
316  but  I  was  not  able  to  get  into  the  inner  circle,  and  his  fine 
deep  voice  made  an  echo  in  the  room  which  rendered  his  words 
inaudible.  *  \ 

No  sooner  had  we  entered  than  there  followed  us  Alcibiades 
the  beautiful,  as  you  say,  and  I  believe  you  ;  and  also  Critias 
the  son  of  Callaeschrus. 

On  entering  we  stopped  a  little,  in  order  to  look  about  us, 
and  then  walked  up  to  Protagoras,  and  I  said  :  Protagoras,  my 
friend  Hippocrates  and  I  have  come  to  see  you. 

Do  you  wish,  he  said,  to  speak  with  me  alone,  or  in  the  pre 
sence  of  the  company  ? 

That  is  as  you  please,  I  said  :  you  shall  determine  when  you 
have  heard  the  object  of  our  visit. 
And  what  is  that  ?  he  said. 

I  must  explain,  I  said,  that  my  friend  Hippocrates  is  a  native 
Athenian  ;  he  is  the  son  of  Apollodorus,  and  of  a  great  and 
prosperous  house,  and  he  is  himself  in  natural  ability  quite  a 
match  for  those  of  his  own  age.  I  believe  that  he  aspires  to 
political  eminence ;  and  this  he  thinks  that  conversation  with 
you  is  most  likely  to  procure  for  him.  And  now  you  can  deter 
mine  whether  you  would  wish  to  speak  to  him  of  these  matters 
alone  or  in  the  presence  of  the  company. 

Thank  you,  Socrates,  for  your  consideration  of  me.  For  cer 
tainly  a  stranger  finding  his  way  into  great  cities,  and  per 
suading  the  flower  of  the  youth  in  them  to  leave  the  company  of 
their  other  kinsmen  or  acquaintance,  old  or  young,  and  live 
with  him,  under  the  idea  that  they  will  be  improved  by  his 
conversation,  ought  to  be  very  cautious ;  great  jealousies  are 
VOL.  I.  K 


occasioned  by  his  proceedings,  and  he  is  the  subject  of  many 
enmities  and  conspiracies.     I  maintain  the  art  of  the  Sophist  to 
be  of  ancient  date  ;  but  that  in  ancient  times  those  who  practised 
the   art,   fearing   this   odium,   veiled   and   disguised   themselves 
under   various    names,    some   under  that   of  poets,   as    Homer, 
Hesiod,  and  Simonides,  some,  of  hierophants  and   prophets,  as 
Orpheus   and    Musaeus,   and   some,   as    I    observe,   even    under 
the  name  of  gymnastic-masters,  like  Iccus  of  Tarentum,  or  the 
more   recently  celebrated    Herodicus,    now    of   Selymbria    and 
formerly   of  Megara,   who  is   a   first-rate   Sophist.      Your   own 
Agathocles   pretended    to   be    a    musician,   but   was    really   an 
eminent  Sophist ;  also  Pythocleides  the  Cean  ;  and  there  were 
many  others  ;  and  all  of  them,  as  I  was  saying,  adopted  these 
arts  as  veils  or  disguises  because  they  were  afraid  of  the  envy 
of  the  multitude.     But  that  is  not  my  way,  for  I  do  not  believe 
that    they   effected    their  purpose,   which   was    to   deceive    the 
government,   who  were  not  blinded  by  them  ;    and   as   to   the 
people,  they  have  no  understanding,  and  only  repeat  what  their 
rulers  are  pleased  to  tell  them.     Now  to  run  away,  and  to  be 
caught   in   running  away,  is  the  very  height  of  folly,  and  also 
greatly  increases  the  exasperation  of  mankind  ;  for  they  regard 
him  who  runs  away  as  a  rogue,  in  addition   to   any  other  ob 
jections  which   they  have   to   him  ;    and    therefore    I    take   an 
entirely  opposite  course,  and  acknowledge  myself  to  be  a  So 
phist  and  instructor  of  mankind ;  such  an  open  acknowledgment 
appears  to  me  to  be  a  better  sort  of  caution  than  concealment. 
Nor  do  I  neglect  other  precautions,  and  therefore  I  hope,,  as  I 
may  say,  by  the  favour  of  heaven  that  no  harm  will  come  of 
the  acknowledgment  that  I  am  a  Sophist.     And  I  have  been 
now   many  years   in    the   profession — for   all    my    years    when 
added  up  are  many — and  there  is  no  one  here  present  of  whom 
I    might    not  be  the  father.     Wherefore  I  should   much  prefer 
conversing  with   you,   if  you   want   to   speak  with   me,   in   the 
presence  of  the  company. 

As  I  suspected  that  he  would  like  to  have  a  little  display 
and  glorification  in  the  presence  of  Prodicus  and  Hippias,  and 
would  gladly  show  us  to  them  in  the  light  of  his  admirers,  I 
said  :  But  why  should  we  not  summon  Prodicus  and  Hippias 
and  their  friends  to  hear  us? 


Very  good,  he  said. 

Suppose,  said  Callias,  that  we  hold  a  council  in  which  you 
may  sit  and  discuss.  This  was  determined,  and  great  delight 
was  felt  at  the  prospect  of  hearing  wise  men  talk  ;  we  ourselves 
all  took  the  chairs  and  benches,  and  arranged  them  by  Hippias, 
where  the  other  benches  had  been  already  placed.  Meanwhile 
Callias  and  Alcibiades  got  up  Prodicus  and  brought  in  him  and 
his  companions. 

When   we   were   all   seated,  Protagoras   said  :    Now  that   the 
company  are  assembled,  Socrates,  tell  me  about  the  young  man 
318  of  whom  you  were  just  now  speaking. 

I  replied:  Jiwill  begin  again  at  the  same  point,  Protagoras, 
and  tell  you  once  more  the  purport  of  my  visit :  this  is  my 
friend  Hippocrates,  who  is  desirous  of  making  your  acquaint 
ance  ;  he  would  like  to  know  what  will  happen  to  him  if  he 
associates  with  you.  I  have  no  more  to  say. 

Protagoras  answered  :  Young  man,  if  you  associate  with  me, 
on  the  very  first  day  you  will  return  home  a  better  man  than 
you  came,  and  better  on  the  second  day  than  on  the  first,  and 
better  every  day  than  you  were  on  the  day  before. 

When  I  heard  this,  I  said  :  Protagoras,  I  clo  not  at  all  wonder 
at  hearing  you  say  this  ;  even  at  your  age,  and  with  all  your 
wisdom,  if  any  one  were  to  teach  you  what  you  did  not  know 
before,  you  would  become  better  no  doubt  :  but  please  to 
answer  in  a  different  way— I  will  explain  how  by  an  example. 
Let  me  suppose  that  Hippocrates,  instead  of  desiring  your 
acquaintance,  wished  to  become  acquainted  with  the  young  man 
Zeuxippus  of  Heraclea,  who  has  lately  visited  Athens,  and  he 
had  come  to  him  as  he  has  come  to  you,  and  had  heard 
him  say,  as  he  has  heard  you  say,  that  every  clay  he  would 
grow  and  become  better  if  he  associated  with  him  :  and  then 
suppose  that  he  were  to  ask  him,  '  In  what  would  he  be  better, 
and  in  what  would  he  grow?'  Zeuxippus  would  answer,  'In 
painting.'  And  suppose  that  he  went  to  Orthagoras  the  Theban, 
and  heard  him  say  the  same,  and  asked  him,  '  In  what  would 
he  become  better  day  by  day?'  he  would  reply,  'In  flute- 
playing.'  Now  I  want  you  to  make  the  same  sort  of  answer  to 
this  young  man  and  to  me,  who  am  asking  questions  on  his 
account.  When  you  say  that  on  the  first  day  on  which  he 

K  2 


associates  with  you  he  will  return  home  a  better  man,  and  on 
every  day  will  grow  in  like  manner — in  what,  Protagoras,  will 
he  be  better  ?  and  about  what  ? 

When  Protagoras  heard  me  say  this,  he  replied  :  You  ask 
questions  fairly,  and  I  like  to  answer  a  question  which  is  fairly 
put.  If  Hippocrates  comes  to  me  he  will  not  experience  the 
sort  of  drudgery  with  which  other  Sophists  are  in  the  habit  of 
insulting  their  pupils  ;  who,  when  they  have  just  escaped  from 
the  arts,  are  taken  and  driven  back  into  them  by  these  teachers, 
and  made  to  learn  calculation,  and  astronony,  and  geometry, 
and  music  (he  gave  a  look  at  Hippias  as  he  said  this)  ;  but  if 
he  comes  to  me,  he  will  learn  that  which  he  comes  to  learn. 
And  this  is  prudence  in  affairs  private  as  well  as  public  ;  he 
will  learn  to  order  his  own  house  in  the  best  manner,  and  he 
will  be  able  to  speak  and  act  for  the  best  in  the  affairs  of  the 

Do  I  understand  you,  I  said  ;    and  is  your  meaning  that  you  319 
teach  the  art  of  politics,  and  that  you  promise  to  make  men 
good  citizens  ? 

That,  Socrates,  is  exactly  the  profession  which  I  make. 

Then,  I  said,  you  do  indeed  possess  a  noble  art,  if  there  is  no 
mistake  about  this  ;  for  I  will  freely  confess  to  you,  Protagoras, 
that  I  have  a  doubt  whether  this  art  is  capable  of  being  taught, 
and  yet  I  know  not  how  to  disbelieve  your  assertion.  And  I 
ought  to  tell  you  why  I  am  of  opinion  that  this  art  cannot  be 
taught  or  communicated  by  man  to  man.  I  say  that  the 
Athenians  are  an  understanding  people,  as  indeed  they  are 
esteemed  by  the  other  Hellenes.  Now  I  observe  that  when  we 
are  met  together  in  the  assembly,  and  the  matter  in  hand 
relates  to  building,  the  builders  are  summoned  as  advisers ; 
when  the  question  is  one  of  ship-building,  then  the  ship-build 
ers  ;  and  the  like  of  other  arts  which  they  think  capable  of 
being  taught  and  learned.  And  if  some  person  offers  to  give 
them  advice  who  is  not  supposed  by  them  to  have  any  skill  in 
the  art,  even  though  he  be  good-looking,  and  rich,  and  noble, 
they  will  not  listen  to  him,  but  laugh  at  him,  and  hoot  him, 
until  either  he  is  clamoured  down  and  retires  of  himself ;  or  if 
he  persist,  he  is  dragged  away  or  put  out  by  the  constables  at 
the  command  of  the  prytanes.  This  is  their  way  of  behaving 


about  the  arts  which  have  professors.  When,  however,  the 
question  is  an  affair  of  state,  then  everybody  is  free  to  have  a 
say — carpenter,  tinker,  cobbler,  sailor,  passenger  ;  rich  and  poor, 
high  and  low — any  one  who  likes  gets  up,  and  no  one  re 
proaches  him,  as  in  the  former  case,  with  not  having  learned, 
and  having  no  teacher,  and  yet  giving  advice  ;  evidently  because 
they  are  under  the  impression  that  this  sort  of  knowledge  can 
not  be  taught.  And  not  only  is  this  true  of  the  state,  but  of 
individuals;  the  best  and  wisest  of  our  citizens  are  unable  to 
320  impart  their  political  wisdom  to  others  :  as  for  example,  Pericles, 
the  father  of  these  young  men,  who  gave  them  excellent  in 
struction  in  all  that  could  be  learned  from  masters,  in  his  own 
department  of  politics  neither  taught  them,  nor  gave  them 
teachers ;  but  they  were  allowed  to  wander  at  their  own  free 
will  in  a  sort  of  hope  that  they  would  light  upon  virtue  of  their 
own  accord.  Or  take  another  example :  there  was  Cleinias  the 
younger  brother  of  our  friend  Alcibiades,  of  whom  this  very 
same  Pericles  was  the  guardian  ;  and  he  being  in  fact  under 
the  apprehension  that  Cleinias  would  be  corrupted  by  Alci 
biades,  took  him  away,  and  placed  him  in  the  house  of  Ariphron 
to  be  educated  ;  but  before  six  months  had  elapsed,  Ariphron 
sent  him  back,  not  knowing  what  to  do  with  him.  And  I  could 
mention  numberless  other  instances  of  persons  who  were  good 
themselves,  and  never  yet  made  any  one  else  good,  whether 
friend  or  stranger.  Now  I,  Protagoras,  having  these  examples 
before  me,  am  inclined  to  think  that  virtue  cannot  be  taught. 
But  then  again,  when  I  listen  to  your  words,  I  am  disposed  to 
waver ;  and  I  believe  that  there  must  be  something  in  what 
you  say,  because  I  know  that  you  have  great  experience,  and 
learning,  and  invention.  And  I  wish  that  you  would,  if  possible, 
show  me  a  little  more  clearly  that  virtue  can  be  taught.  Will 
you  be  so  good  ? 

That  I  will,  Socrates,  and  gladly.  But  what  would  you 
like?  Shall  I,  as  an  elder,  speak  to  you  as  younger  men  in  an 
apologue  or  myth,  or  shall  I  argue  the  question? 

To  this  several  of  the  company  answered  that  he  should 
choose  for  himself. 

Well,  then,  he  said,  I  think  that  the  myth  will  be  more 


Once  upon  a  time  there  were  gods  only,  and  no  mortal 
creatures.  But  when  the  time  came  that  these  also  should  be 
created,  the  gods  fashioned  them  out  of  earth  and  fire  and 
various  mixtures  of  both  elements  in  the  inward  parts  of  the 
earth  ;  and  when  they  were  about  ,to  bring  them  into  the  light 
of  day,  they  ordered  Prometheus  and  Epimetheus  to  equip 
them,  and  to  distribute  to  them  severally  their  proper  qualities. 
Epimetheus  said  to  Prometheus  :  '  Let  me  distribute,  and  do 
you  inspect.'  This  was  agreed,  and  Epimetheus  made  the 
distribution.  There  were  some  to  whom  he  gave  strength 
without  swiftness,  while  he  equipped  the  weaker  with  swiftness  ; 
some  he  armed,  and  others  he  left  unarmed  ;  and  devised  for 
the  latter  some  other  means  of  preservation,  making  some 
large,  and  having  their  size  as  a  protection,  and  others  small, 
whose  nature  was  to  fly  in  the  air  or  burrow  in  the  ground  ; 
this  was  to  be  their  way  of  escape.  Thus  did  he  compensate  321 
them  with  the  view  of  preventing  any  race  from  becoming 
extinct.  And  when  he  had  provided  against  their  destruction 
by  one  another,  he  contrived  also  a  means  of  protecting  them 
against  the  seasons  of  heaven  ;  clothing  them  with  close  hair 
and  thick  skins  sufficient  to  defend  them  against  the  winter 
cold  and  able  to  resist  the  summer  heat,  and  to  be  a  natural 
bed  of  their  own  when  they  wanted  to  rest ;  also  he  furnished 
them  with  hoofs  and  hair  and  hard  and  callous  skins  under 
their  feet.  Then  he  gave  them  varieties  of  food, — to  some  herb 
of  the  soil,  to  others  fruits  of  trees,  and  to  others  roots,  and  to 
some  again  he  gave  other  animals  as  food.  And  some  he  made 
to  have  few  young  ones,  \vhile  those  who  were  their  prey  were 
very  prolific  ;  and  in  this  manner  the  race  was  preserved. 
Thus  did  Epimetheus,  who,  not  being  very  wise,  forgot  that  he 
had  distributed  among  the  brute  animals  all  the  qualities  which 
he  had  to  give, — and  when  he  came  to  man,  who  was  still 
unprovided,  he  was  terribly  perplexed.  Now  while  he  was  in 
this  perplexity,  Prometheus  came  to  inspect  the  distribution, 
and  he  found  that  the  other  animals  were  suitably  furnished, 
but  that  man  alone  was  naked  and  shoeless,  and  had  neither 
bed  nor  arms  of  defence.  The  appointed  hour  was  approach 
ing  when  man  in  his  turn  was  to  go  forth  into  the  light  of 
day ;  and  Prometheus,  not  knowing  how  he  could  devise  his 


salvation,  stole  the  mechanical  arts  of  Hephaestus  and  Athene, 
and  fire  with  them  (they  could  neither  have  been  acquired  nor 
used  without  fire),  and  gave  them  to  man.  Thus  man  had  the 
wisdom  necessary  to  the  support  of  life,  but  political  wisdom 
he  had  not ;  for  that  was  in  the  keeping  of  Zeus,  and  the 
power  of  Prometheus  did  not  extend  to  entering  into  the  castle 
of  heaven,  in  which  Zeus  dwelt,  who  moreover  had  terrible 
sentinels  ;  but  he  did  enter  by  stealth  into  the  common  work 
shop  of  Athene  and  Hephaestus,  in  which  they  used  to  practise 
their  favourite  arts,  and  took  away  Hephaestus'  art  of  working 
by  fire,  and  also  the  art  of  Athene,  and  gave  them  to  man. 
And  in  this  way  man  was  supplied  with  the  means  of  life. 
But  Prometheus  is  said  to  have  been  afterwards  prosecuted  for 
theft,  owing  to  the  blunder  of  Epirnetheus. 

322  Now  man,  having  a  share  of  the  divine  attributes,  was  at 
first  the  only  one  of  the  animals  who  had  any  gods,  because 
he  alone  was  of  their  kindred  ;  and  he  would  raise  altars  and 
images  of  them.  He  was  not  long  in  inventing  language  and 
names  ;  and  he  also  constructed  houses  and  clothes  and  shoes 
and  beds,  and  drew  sustenance  from  the  earth.  Thus  provided, 
mankind  at  first  lived  dispersed,  and  there  were  no  cities.  But 
the  consequence  was  that  they  were  destroyed  by  the  wild 
beasts,  for  they  were  utterly  weak  in  comparison  of  them,  and 
their  art  was  only  sufficient  to  provide  them  with  the  means  of 
life,  and  would  not  enable  them  to  carry  on  war  against  the 
animals  :  food  they  had,  but  not  as  yet  the  art  of  government, 
of  which  the  art  of  war  is  a  part.  After  a  while  the  desire  of 
self-preservation  gathered  them  into  cities ;  but  when  they 
were  gathered  together,  having  no  art  of  government,  they 
evil  intrcatcd  one  another,  and  were  again  in  process  of 
dispersion  and  destruction.  Zeus  feared  that  the  race  would 
be  exterminated,  and  so  he  sent  Hermes  to  them,  bearing 
reverence  and  justice  to  be  the  ordering  principles  of  cities  and 
the  bonds  of  friendship  and  conciliation.  Hermes  asked  Zeus 
how  he  should  impart  justice  and  reverence  among  men : — 
should  he  distribute  them  as  the  arts  are  distributed  ;  that  is 
to  say,  to  a  favoured  few  only,  one  skilled  individual  having 
enough  of  medicine  or  of  any  other  art  for  many  unskilled 
ones?  Shall  this  be  the  manner  in  which  I  distribute  justice 


and  reverence  among  men,  or  shall  I  give  them  to  all  ?  To  all, 
said  Zeus  ;  I  should  like  them  all  to  have  a  share ;  for  cities 
cannot  exist,  if  a  few  only  share  in  the  virtues,  as  in  the  arts. 
And  further,  make  a  law  by  my  order,  that  he  who  has  no 
part  in  reverence  and  justice  shall  be  put  to  death,  for  he  is  a 
plague  of  the  state. 

And  this  is  the  reason,  Socrates,  why  the  Athenians  and 
mankind  in  general,  when  the  question  relates  to  carpentering 
or  any  other  mechanical  art,  allow  but  a  few  to  share  in  their 
deliberations  ;  and  when  any  one  else  interferes,  then,  as  you 
say,  they  object,  if  he  be  not  of  the  favoured  few,  and  that,  as 
I  say,  is  very  natural.  But  when  they  come  to  deliberate 
about  political  virtue,  which  proceeds  only  by  way  of  justice  323 
and  wisdom,  they  are  patient  enough  of  any  man  who  speaks 
of  them,  as  is  also  natural,  because  they  think  that  every  man 
ought  to  share  in  this  sort  of  virtue,  and  that  states  could  not 
exist  if  this  were  otherwise.  I  have  explained  to  you,  Socrates, 
the  reason  of  this  phenomenon. 

And  that  you  may  not  suppose  yourself  to  be  deceived  in 
thinking  that  all  men  regard  every  man  as  having  a  share  of 
justice  and  of  every  other  political  virtue,  let  me  give  you  a 
further  proof,  which  is  this.  In  other  cases,  as  you  are  aware, 
if  a  man  says  that  he  is  a  good  flute-player,  or  skilful  in  any 
other  art  in  which  he  has  no  skill,  people  either  laugh  at  him 
or  are  angry  with  him,  and  his  relations  think  that  he  is  mad 
and  go  and  admonish  him  ;  but  when  honesty  is  in  question, 
or  some  other  political  virtue,  even  if  they  know  that  he  is 
dishonest,  yet,  if  the  man  comes  publicly  forward  and  tells  the 
truth  about  his  dishonesty,  in  this  case  they  deem  that  to  be 
madness  which  in  the  other  case  was  held  by  them  to  be  good 
sense.  They  say  that  men  ought  to  profess  honesty  whether 
they  are  honest  or  not,  and  that  a  man  is  mad  who  does  not 
make  such  a  profession.  Their  notion  is,  that  a  man  must 
have  some  degree  of  honesty  ;  and  that  if  he  has  none  at  all 
he  ought  not  to  be  in  the  world. 

I  have  been  showing  that  they  are  right  in  admitting  every 
man  as  a  counsellor  about  this  sort  of  virtue,  as  they  are  of 
opinion  that  every  man  is  a  partaker  of  it.  And  I  will  now 
endeavour  further  to  show  that  they  regard  this  virtue,  not  as 


given  by  nature,  or  growing  spontaneously,  but  as  capable  of 
being  learned  and  acquired  by  study.  For  injustice  is  punished, 
whereas  no  one  would  instruct,  or  rebuke,  or  be  angry  at  those 
whose  calamities  they  suppose  to  come  to  them  either  by 
nature  or  chance ;  they  do  not  try  to  alter  them,  they  do 
but  pity  them.  Who  would  be  so  foolish  as  to  chastise  or 
instruct  the  ugly,  or  the  diminutive,  or  the  feeble  ?  And  for 
this  reason  ;  they  know,  I  imagine,  that  this  sort  of  good  and 
evil  comes  to  them  by  nature  and  chance ;  whereas  if  a  man 
is  wanting  in  those  good  qualities  which  come  to  men  from 
study  and  exercise  and  teaching,  and  has  only  the  contrary 
evil  qualities,  men  are  angry  with  him,  and  punish  and 
reprove  him  ;  of  which  evil  qualities  one  is  impiety  and  another 
324,  injustice  ;  and  they  may  be  described  generally  as  the  opposite 
of  political  virtue.  In  such  cases  any  man  will  be  angry  with 
another,  and  reprimand  him, — clearly  under  the  impression  that 
by  study  and  learning,  the  virtue  in  which  he  is  deficient  may 
be  acquired.  For  if  you  will  think,  Socrates,  of  the  effect 
which  punishment  has  on  evil-doers,  you  will  see  at  once  that 
in  the  opinion  of  mankind  virtue  may  be  acquired  ;  no  one 
punishes  the  evil-doer  under  the  notion,  or  for  the  reason, 
that  he  has  done  wrong, — only  the  unreasonable  fury  of  a 
beast  acts  in  that  way.  But  he  who  desires  to  inflict  rational 
punishment  does  not  retaliate  for  a  past  wrong  which  cannot 
be  undone ;  he  has  regard  to  the  future,  and  is  desirous  that 
the  man  who  is  punished,  and  he  who  sees  him  punished,  may  be 
deterred  from  doing  wrong  again.  He  clearly  punishes  for  the 
sake  of  prevention,  thereby  implying  that  virtue  is  capable  of 
being  taught.  This  is  the  notion  of  all  who  retaliate  upon 
others  either  privately  or  publicly.  And  the  Athenians,  too, 
your  own  citizens,  like  other  men,  retaliate  on  all  whom 
they  regard  as  evil  doers ;  which  argues  them  to  be  of  the 
number  of  those  who  think  that  virtue  may  be  acquired  and 
taught.  Thus  far,  Socrates,  I  have  shown  you  clearly  enough, 
if  I  am  not  mistaken,  that  your  countrymen  arc  right  in 
admitting  the  tinker  and  the  cobbler  to  advise  about  politics, 
and  also  that  they  deem  virtue  to  be  capable  of  being  taught 
and  acquired. 

There  yet  remains  one  difficulty  which   has  been   raised   by 

1 3  8  PRO  TA  GORA  S. 

you   about  the  sons   of  good   men.     What  is   the  reason  why     + 
good  men  teach  their  sons  the  knowledge  which  is  gained  from 
teachers,  and  make  them  wise  in  that,  but  do  nothing  towards 
improving  them  in   the  virtues   which   distinguish   themselves? 
And  here,  Socrates,  I  will  leave  the  apologue  and  take  up  the 
argument.     Please  to  consider :    Is  there  or  is  there  not  some 
one  quality  in  which  all  the  citizens  must  be  partakers,  if  there 
is  to  be  a  city  at  all  ?     In  the  answer  to  this  question  is  con 
tained  the  only  solution  of  your  difficulty  ;    there  is  no  other. 
For  if  there  be  any  such  quality,  and  this  quality  or  unity  is 
not  the  art  of  the  carpenter,  or  the  smith,  or  the   potter,  but  325 
justice   and    temperance   and    holiness   and,   in   a  word,   manly 
virtue — if  this  is  the  quality  of  which  all  men  must  be  partakers, 
and  which  is  the  very  condition  of  their  learning  or  doing  any 
thing  else,  and  if  he  who  is  wanting  in  this,  whether  he  be  a 
child  only  or  a  grown-up  man  or  woman,  must  be  taught  and 
punished,  until  by  punishment  he  becomes  better,  and  he  who 
rebels  against  instruction   and   punishment   is   either   exiled    or 
condemned   to   death   under   the   idea   that   he  is  incurable — if, 
I  say,  this  be  true,  and  nevertheless  good  men  have  their  sons 
taught  other  things  and  not  this,  do  consider  how  extraordinary 
their   conduct  would   appear  to  be.     For  we  have  shown   that 
they  think  virtue  capable  of  being  taught  and  inculcated  both 
in  private  and  public  ;  and  yet,  notwithstanding  this,  they  teach 
their  sons  lesser  matters,  ignorance  of  which  does  not  involve 
the  punishment  of  death  :    but  those  things,   the   ignorance   of 
which  may  cause  death  and  exile  to  those  who  have  no  train 
ing    or  knowledge   of   them — aye,   and  confiscation   as  well    as 
death,  and,  in  a  word,  may  be  the  ruin  of  families — those  things, 
I  say,  they  are  supposed  not  to  teach  them, — not  to  take  the  ut 
most  care  that  they  should  learn.     That  is  not  likely,  Socrates. 
'   Education   and   admonition   commence   in  the   first  years  of 
childhood,  and  last  to  the  very  end  of  life.     Mother  and   nurse 
and  father  and  tutor  are  quarrelling  about  the  improvement  of 
the  child  as  soon  as  ever  he  is  able  to  understand  them  :    he 
cannot  say  or  do  anything  without  their  setting  forth  to  him 
that  this  is  just  and  that  is  unjust ;   this  is  honourable,  that  is 
dishonourable  ;  this  is  holy,  that  is  unholy ;  do  this  and  abstain 
from   that.     And    if  he   obeys,   well   and   good ;    if  not,  he   is 


straightened  by  threats  and  blows,  like  a  piece  of  warpccl  wood. 
At  a  later  stage  they  send  him  to  teachers,  and  enjoin  them 
to  see  to  his  manners  even  more  than  to  his  reading  and 
music  ;  and  the  teachers  do  as  they  are  desired.  And  when 
the  boy  has  learned  his  letters  and  is  beginning  to.  understand 
what  is  written,  as  before  he  understood  only  what  was  spoken,  ' 
they  put  into  his  hands  the  works  of  great  poets,  which  he 
reads  at  school ;  in  these  are  contained  many  admonitions,  and 
many  tales,  and  praises,  and  encomia  of  ancient  famous  men, 
which  he  is  required  to  learn  by  heart,  in  order  that  he  may 
imitate  or  emulate  them  and  desire  to  become  like  them. 
Then,  again,  the  teachers  of  the  lyre  take  similar  care  that 
their  young  disciple  is  temperate  and  gets  into  no  mischief; 
and  when  they  have  taught  him  the  use  of  the  lyre,  they 
introduce  him  to  the  poems  of  other  excellent  poets,  who  arc 
the  lyric  poets  ;  and  these  they  set  to  music,  and  make  their 
harmonies  and  rhythms  quite  familiar  to  the  children's  souls,  in 
order  that  they  may  learn  to  be  more  gentle,  and  harmonious,  and 
rhythmical,  and  so  more  fitted  foFspeech  and  action  ;  for  the  life 
of  man  in  every  part  has  need  of  harmony  and  rhythm./  Then 
they  send  them  to  the  master  of  gymnastic,  in  order  that  their 
bodies  may  better  minister  to  the  virtuous  mind,  and  that  they- 
may  not  be  compelled  through  bodily  weakness  to  play  the 
coward  in  war  or  on  any  other  occasion.  This  is  what  is  done 
by  those  who  have  the  means,  and  those  who  have  the  means 
are  the  rich  ;  their  children  begin  education  soonest  and  leave 
off  latest.  When  they  have  done  with  masters,  the  state  again 
compels  them  to  learn  the  laws,  and  live  after  the  pattern 
which  they  furnish,  and  not  after  their  own  fancies;  and  just 
as  in  learning  to  write,  the  writing-master  first  draws  lines  with 
a  style  for  the  use  of  the  young  beginner,  and  gives  him  the 
tablet  and  makes  him  follow  the  lines,  so  the  city  draws  the 
laws,  which  were  the  invention  of  good  lawgivers  who  were  of 
old  time  ;  these  are  given  to  the  young  man,  in  order  to  guide 
him  in  his  conduct  whether  as  ruler  or  ruled  ;  and  he  who 
transgresses  them  is  to  be  corrected,  or,  in  other  words,  called 
to  account,  which  is  a  term  used  not  only  in  your  country,  but 
also  in  many  others.  Now  when  there  is  all  this  care  about 
virtue  private  and  public,  why,  Socrates,  do  you  still  wonder 


and  doubt  whether  virtue  can  be  taught  ?     Cease  to  wonder,  for 
the  opposite  would  be  far  more  surprising. 

But  why  then  do  the  sons  of  good  fathers  often  turn  out 
ill?  Let  me  explain  that, — which  is  far  from  being  wonderful, 
if,  as  I  have  been  saying,  the  very  existence  of  the  state  implies 
that  virtue  is  not  any  man's  private  possession.  If  this  be  327 
true — and  nothing  can  be  truer — then  I  will  ask  you  to  imagine, 
as  an  illustration,  some  other  pursuit  or  branch  of  knowledge 
which  may  be  assumed  equally  to  be  the  condition  of  the  ex 
istence  of  a  state.  Suppose  that  there  could  be  no  state  unless 
we  were  all  flute-players,  as  far  as  each  had  the  capacity,  and 
everybody  was  freely  teaching  everybody  the  art,  both  in 
private  and  public,  and  reproving  the  bad  player  as  freely 
and  openly  as  every  man  now  teaches  justice  and  the  laws,  not 
concealing  them  as  he  would  conceal  the  other  arts,  but  im 
parting  them — for  all  of  us  have  a  mutual  interest  in  the 
justice  and  virtue  of  one  another,  and  this  is  the  reason  why 
every  one  is  ready  to  teach  justice  and  the  laws  ; — suppose, 
I  say,  that  there  were  the  same  readiness  and  liberality  among 
us  in  teaching  one  another  flute-playing,  do  you  imagine, 
Socrates,  that  the  sons  of  good  flute-players  would  be  more 
likely  to  be  good  than  the  sons  of  bad  ones  ?  I  think  not. 
Would  not  their  sons  grow  up  to  be  distinguished  or  undis 
tinguished  according  to  their  own  natural  capacities  as  flute- 
players,  and  the  son  of  a  good  player  would  often  turn  out  to 
be  a  bad  one,  and  the  son  of  a  bad  player  to  be  a  good  one, 
and  all  flute-players  would  be  good  enough  in  comparison  of 
those  who  were  ignorant  and  unacquainted  with  the  art  of 
flute-playing?  In  like  manner  I  would  have  you  consider  that 
he  who  appears  to  you  to  be  the  worst  of  those  who  have 
been  brought  up  in  laws  and  humanities,  would  appear  to  be 
a  just  man  and  a  master  of  justice  if  he  were  to  be  compared 
with  men  who  had  no  education,  or  courts  of  justice,  or  laws, 
or  any  restraints  upon  them  which  compelled  them  to  practise 
virtue — with  the  savages,  for  example,  whom  the  poet  Phere- 
crates  exhibited  on  the  stage  at  the  last  year's  Lenaean  festival. 
If  you  were  living  among  men  such  as  the  man-haters  in  his 
Chorus,  you  would  be  only  too  glad  to  meet  with  Eurybates 
and  Phrynondas,  and  you  would  sorrowfully  long  to  revisit  the 


rascality  of  this  part  of  the  world.  And  you,  Socrates,  are 
discontented,  and  why  ?  Because  all  men  are  teachers  of  virtue, 
each  one  according  to  his  ability,  and  you  say  that  there  is 
no  teacher.  You  might  as  well  ask,  Who  teaches  Greek  ?  For 
328  of  that  too  there  will  not  be  any  teachers  found.  Or  you 
might  ask,  Who  is  to  teach  the  sons  of  our  artisans  this  same 
art  which  they  have  learned  of  their  fathers?  He  and  his 
fellow-workmen  have  taught  them  to  the  best  of  their  ability,— 
but  who  will  carry  them  further  in  their  arts  ?  And  you  would 
certainly  have  a  difficulty,  Socrates,  in  finding  a  teacher  of 
them  ;  but  there  would  be  no  difficulty  in  finding  a  teacher  of 
those  who  are  wholly  ignorant.  And  this  is  true  of  virtue  or 
of  anything  ;  and  if  a  man  is  better  able  than  we  are  to  pro 
mote  virtue  ever  so  little,  that  is  as  much  as  we  can  expect. 
A  teacher  of  this  sort  I  believe  myself  to  be,  and  above  all 
other  men  to  have  the  knowledge  which  makes  a  man  noble 
and  good  ;  and  I  give  my  pupils  their  money's-worth,  and  even 
more,  as  they  themselves  confess.  And  therefore  I  have  in 
troduced  the  following  mode  of  payment : — When  a  man  has 
been  my  pupil,  if  he  likes  he  pays  my  price,  but  there  is  no 
compulsion  ;  and  if  he  does  not  like,  he  has  only  to  go  into  a 
temple  and  take  an  oath  of  the  value  of  the  instructions,  and 
he  pays  no  more  than  he  declares  to  be  their  value. 

Such  is  my  Apologue,  Socrates,  and  such  is  the  argument 
by  which  I  endeavour  to  show  that  virtue  may  be  taught,  and 
that  this  is  the  opinion  of  the  Athenians.  And  I  have  also 
attempted  to  show  that  you  are  not  to  wonder  at  good  sons 
having  bad  fathers,  or  at  good  fathers  having  bad  sons,  of 
which  the  sons  of  Polycleitus  afford  an  example,  who  are  the 
companions  of  our  friends  here,  Paralus  and  Xanthippus,  but 
are  nothing  in  comparison  with  their  father ;  and  this  is  true 
of  the  sons  of  many  other  artists.  As  yet  I  ought  not  to  say 
the  same  of  Paralus  and  Xanthippus  themselves,  for  they  are 
young  and  there  is  still  hope  of  them. 
Protagoras  ended,  and  in  my  ear 

'  So  charming  left  his  voice,  that  I  the  while 
Thought  him  still  speaking;    still  stood  fixed  to  hear.' 

At    length,   when    the    truth    dawned    upon    me,    that    he   had 
finished,  nor  without  difficulty  I  began   to   collect  myself,  and 


looking  at  Hippocrates,  I  said  to  him  :  O  son  of  Apollodorus, 
how  deeply  grateful  I  am  to  you  for  having  brought  me  hither ; 
I  would  not  have  missed  the  speech  of  Protagoras  for  a  great 
deal.  For  I  used  to  imagine  that  no  human  care  could  make 
men  good  ;  but  I  know  better  now.  Yet  I  have  still  one  very 
small  difficulty  which  I  am  sure  that  Protagoras  will  easily 
explain,  as  he  has  already  explained  so  much.  If  a  man  were 
to  go  and  consult  Pericles  or  any  of  our  great  speakers  about  329 
these  matters,  he  might  perhaps  hear  as  fine  a  discourse ;  but 
then  when  one  has  a  question  to  ask  of  any  of  them,  like 
books,  they  can  neither  answer  nor  ask ;  and  if  any  one 
challenges  the  least  particular  of  their  speech,  they  go  ringing 
on  in  a  long  harangue,  like  brazen  pots,  which  when  they  are 
struck  continue  to  sound  unless  some  one  puts  his  hand  upon 
them  ;  whereas  our  friend  Protagoras  can  not  only  make  a 
good  speech,  as  he  has  already  shown,  but  when  he  is  asked  a 
question  he  can  answer  briefly ;  and  when  he  asks  he  will  wait 
and  hear  the  answer ;  and  this  is  a  very  rare  gift.  Now  I, 
Protagoras,  have  a  little  question  that  I  want  to  ask  of  you, 
and  if  you  will  only  answer  me  that,  I  shall  be  quite  satisfied. 
You  were  saying  that  virtue  can  be  taught ; — that  I  will  take 
upon  your  authority,  and  there  is  no  one  to  whom  I  am  more 
ready  to  trust.  But  I  marvel  at  one  thing  about  which  I  should 
like  to  have  my  mind  set  at  rest.  You  were  speaking  of  Zeus 
sending  justice  and  reverence  to  men  ;  and  several  times  while 
you  were  speaking  justice,  and  temperance,  and  holiness,  and 
all  these  qualities,  were  described  by  you  as  if  together  they 
made  up  virtue.  Now  I  want  you  to  tell  me  truly  whether  vir 
tue  is  one  whole,  of  which  justice  and  temperance  and  holiness 
are  parts;  or  whether  all  these  are  only  the  names  of  one  and  the 
same  thing  :  that  is  the  doubt  which  still  lingers  in  my  mind. 

There  is  no  difficulty,  Socrates,  in  answering  that  the  qualities 
of  which  you  are  speaking  are  the  parts  of  virtue  which  is  one. 

And  are  they  parts,  I  said,  in  the  same  sense  in  which 
mouth,  nose,  and  eyes,  and  ears,  are  the  parts  of  a  face ;  or  are 
they  like  the  parts  of  gold,  which  differ  from  the  whole  and 
from  one  another  only  in  being  larger  or  smaller  ? 

I  should  say  that  they  differed,  Socrates,  in  the  first  way  ;  as 
the  parts  of  a  face  are  related  to  the  whole  face. 


And  do  men  have  some  one  part  and  some  another  part 
of  virtue?  Or  if  a  man  has  one  part,  must  he  also  have  all 
the  others  ? 

By  no  means,  he  said  ;  for  many  a  man  is  brave  and  not  just, 
or  just  and  not  wise. 

Why  then,  I  said,  courage  and  wisdom  are  also  parts  of 
virtue  ? 

330      Most  undoubtedly,  he  said  ;  and  wisdom  is  the  noblest  of  the 

And  they  are  all  different  from  one  another  ?     I  said. 


And  each  of  them  has  a  distinct  function  like  the  parts  of 
the  face  ; — the  eye,  for  example,  is  not  like  the  ear,  and  has 
not  the  same  functions  ;  and  the  other  parts  are  none  of  them 
like  one  another,  either  in  their  functions,  or  in  any  other  way  ? 
Now  I  want  to  know  whether  the  parts  of  virtue  clo  not  also 
differ  in  themselves  and  in  their  functions  ;  as  that  is  clearly 
what  the  simile  would  imply. 

Yes,  Socrates,  you  are  right  in  that. 

Then,  I  said,  no  other  part  of  virtue  is  like  knowledge,  or  like 
justice,  or  like  courage,  or  like  temperance,  or  like  holiness  ? 

No,  he  answered. 

Well  then,  I  said,  suppose  that  you  and  I  enquire  into  their 
natures.  And  first,  you  would  agree  with  me  that  justice  is  of 
the  nature  of  a  thing,  would  you  not  ?  That  is  my  opinion, 
would  not  that  be  yours  also  ? 

Yes,  he  said  ;   that  is  mine  also. 

And  suppose  that  some  one  were  to  ask  us,  saying,  O 
Protagoras,  and  you  Socrates,  what  about  this  thing  which  you 
just  now  called  justice,  is  it  just  or  unjust?  And  I  were  to  answer, 
just :  and  you — will  you  vote  with  me  or  against  me  ? 

With  you,  he  said. 

Thereupon  I  should  answer  to  him  who  asked  me,  that  justice 
is  of  the  nature  of  the  just :  would  not  you  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  suppose  that  he  went  on  to  say  :  Well  now,  is  there 
such  a  thing  as  holiness  ? — \ve  should  answer,  Yes,  if  I  am  not 
mistaken  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 


And  that  you  acknowledge  to  be  a  thing — should  we  admit 
that  ? 

He  assented. 

And  is  this  a  sort  of  thing  which  is  of  the  nature  of  the  holy, 
or  of  the  nature  of  the  unholy?  I  should  be  angry  at  his 
putting  such  a  question,  and  should  say,  Peace,  man  ;  nothing 
can  be  holy  if  holiness  is  not  holy.  What  do  you  say  to  that  ? 
Would  you  not  answer  in  the  same  way? 

Certainly,  he  said. 

And  then  after  this  suppose  that  he  came  and  asked  us, 
What  were  you  saying  just  now  ?  Perhaps  I  may  not  have 
heard  you  rightly,  but  you  seemed  to  me  to  be  saying  that  the 
parts  of  virtue  were  not  the  same  as  one  another.  I  should 
reply,  You  certainly  heard  that  said,  but  not,  as  you  imagine,  331 
said  by  me  ;  for  Protagoras  gave  the  answer,  and  I  only  asked 
the  question.  And  suppose  that  he  turned  to  you  and  said,  Is 
this  true,  Protagoras?  and  do  you  maintain  that  one  part  of 
virtue  is  unlike  another,  and  is  this  your  position  ?  how  would 
you  answer  him  ? 

I  could  not  help  acknowledging  the  truth  of  what  he  said, 

Well  then,  Protagoras,  we  will  assume  this  ;  and  now  suppos 
ing  that  he  proceeded  to  say  further,  Then  holiness  is  not  of 
the  nature  of  justice,  nor  justice  of  the  nature  of  holiness,  but 
of  the  nature  of  unholiness ;  and  holiness  is  of  the  nature  of  the 
not  just,  and  therefore  of  the  unjust,  and  the  unjust  is  unholy  ; 
how  shall  we  answer  him  ?  I  should  certainly  answer  him  on 
my  own  behalf  that  justice  is  holy,  and  that  holiness  is  just  ;  and 
I  would  say  in  like  manner  on  your  behalf  also,  if  you  would 
allow  me,  that  justice  is  either  the  same  with  holiness,  or  very 
nearly  the  same  ;  and  above  all  I  would  assert  that  justice  is 
like  holiness  and  holiness  is  like  justice;  and  I  wish  that 
you  would  tell  me  whether  I  may  be  permitted  to  give  this 
answer  on  your  behalf,  and  whether  you  would  agree  with  me. 

He  replied,  I  cannot  simply  agree,  Socrates,  to  the  proposi 
tion  that  justice  is  holy  and  that  holiness  is  just,  for  there 
appears  to  me  to  be  a  difference  between  them.  But  what 
matter  ?  if  you  please  I  please  ;  and  let  us  assume,  if  you  will, 
that  justice  is  holy,  and  that  holiness  is  just. 


Pardon  me,  I  replied  ;  I  do  not  want  this  '  if  you  wish '  or  '  if 
you  will '  sort  of  argument  to  be  proven,  but  I  want  you  and 
me  to  be  proven  :  I  mean  to  say  that  the  argument  will  be  best 
proven  if  there  be  no  '  if.' 

Well,  he  said,  I  admit  that  justice  bears  a  resemblance  to 
holiness,  for  there  is  always  some  point  of  view  in  which  every 
thing  is  like  every  other  thing  ;  white  is  in  a  certain  way  like 
black,  and  hard  is  like  soft,  and  the  most  extreme  opposites 
have  some  qualities  in  common  ;  even  the  parts  of  the  face 
which,  as  we  were  saying  before,  are  distinct  and  have  different 
functions,  are  still  in  a  certain  point  of  view  similar,  and  one  of 
them  is  like  another  of  them.  And  you  may  prove  that  they 
are  like  one  another  on  the  same  principle  that  all  things  are 
like  one  another  ;  and  yet  things  which  are  alike  in  some 
particular  ought  not  to  be  called  alike,  nor  things  which  are 
unlike  in  some  particular,  however  slight,  unlike. 

And  do  you  think,  I  said  in  a  tone  of  surprise,  that  justice 
and  holiness  have  but  a  small  degree  of  likeness  ? 

Certainly  not ;  but  I  do  not  agree  with  what  I  understand 
to  be  your  view. 

332  Well,  I  said,  as  you  appear  to  have  a  difficulty  about  this, 
let  us  take  another  of  the  examples  which  you  mentioned 
instead.  Do  you  admit  the  existence  of  folly  ? 

I  do. 

And  is  not  wisdom  the  very  opposite  of  folly  ? 

That  is  true,  he  said. 

And  when  men  act  rightly  and  advantageously  they  seem  to 
you  to  be  temperate  [or  moderate]  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  moderation  makes  them  moderate  ? 


And  they  who  do  not  act  rightly  act  foolishly,  and  in  acting 
thus  are  not  moderate  ? 

I  agree  to  that,  he  said. 

Then  to  act  foolishly  is  the  opposite  of  acting  moderately  ? 

He  assented. 

And  foolish  actions  are  clone  by  folly,  and  moderate  [or  tem 
perate]  actions  by  moderation  ? 

He  agreed. 

VOL.  I.  L 


And  that  is  done  strongly  which  is  done  by  strength,  and 
weakly  which  is  done  by  weakness? 

He  assented. 

And  that  which  is  done  with  swiftness  is  done  swiftly,  and 
that  which  is  done  with  slowness,  slowly? 

He  acknowledged  that. 

And  that  which  is  done  in  the  same  manner,  is  done  by  the 
same ;  and  that  which  is  done  in  an  opposite  manner  by  the 

He  agreed. 

Once  more,  I  said,  is  there  anything  beautiful? 


To  which  the  only  opposite  is  the  ugly? 

There  is  no  other. 

And  is  there  anything  good  ? 

There  is. 

To  which  the  only  opposite  is  the  evil  ? 

There  is  no  other. 

And  there  is  the  acute  in  sound  ? 


To  which  the  only  opposite  is  the  grave? 

There  is  no  other,  he  said,  but  that. 

Then  every  opposite  has  one  opposite  only  and  no  more  ? 

He  assented. 

Then  now,  I  said,  let  us  recapitulate  our  admissions.  First 
of  all  we  admitted  that  everything  has  one  opposite  and  not 
more  than  one  ? 

To  that  we  assented. 

And  we  admitted  also  that  what  was  done  in  opposite  ways 
was  done  by  opposites? 


And  that  which  was  done  foolishly,  as  we  also  admitted, 
was  done  in  the  opposite  way  to  that  which  was  done  temper 
ately  [or  moderately]  ? 


And  that  which  was  done  temperately  [or  moderately]  was 
done  by  temperance  [or  moderation],  and  that  which  was  done 
foolishly  by  folly  ? 

He  agreed. 


And    that    which    is    done    in    opposite    ways    is    done    by 
opposites  ? 


And  one  thing   is  done  by  temperance  [or  moderation],  and 
quite  another  thing  by  folly  ? 


And  those  are  opposite  ways  ? 


And  therefore  done  by  opposites.  Then  folly  is  the  opposite 
of  temperance  [or  moderation]  ? 

That  is  evident. 

And  do  you  remember  that  folly  has  already  been  acknow 
ledged  by  us  to  be  the  opposite  of  wisdom  ? 

He  assented. 

And  we  said  that  everything  has  only  one  opposite  ? 


333  Then,  Protagoras,  which  of  the  two  assertions  shall  we  re 
nounce  ?  One  says  that  everything  has  but  one  opposite  ;  the 
other  that  wisdom  is  distinct  from  temperance  [or  moderation], 
and  that  both  of  them  are  parts  of  virtue  ;  and  that  they  are 
not  only  distinct,  but  dissimilar,  both  in  themselves  and  in 
their  functions,  like  the  parts  of  a  face.  Which  of  these  two 
assertions  shall  we  renounce  ?  For  both  of  them  together  are 
certainly  not  in  harmony  ;  they  do  not  accord  or  agree  :  for 
how  can  they  be  said  to  agree  if  everything  is  assumed  to  have 
only  one  opposite  and  not  more  than  one,  and  yet  folly,  which 
is  one,  has  clearly  the  two  opposites — wisdom  and  temperance  ? 
Is  not  that  true,  Protagoras  ?  What  else  would  you  say  ? 

He  assented,  but  with  great  reluctance. 

Then  temperance  and  wisdom  are  the  same,  as  before  justice 
and  holiness  appeared  to  us  to  be  nearly  the  same.  And  now, 
Protagoras,  I  said,  we  must  finish  the  enquiry,  and  not  faint. 
Do  you  think  that  an  unjust  man  can  be  temperate  in  his  in 
justice  ? 

I  should  be  ashamed,  Socrates,  he  said,  to  acknowledge  this, 
which  nevertheless  many  may  be  found  to  assert. 

And  shall  I  argue  with  them  or  with  you  ?  I  replied. 

I  would  rather,  he  said,  that  you  should  argue  with  the 
many  first,  if  you  will. 

L  2 


Whichever  you  please,  if  you  will  only  answer  me  and  say 
whether  you  are  of  their  opinion  or  not.  My  object  is  to  test 
the  validity  of  the  argument  ;  and  yet  the  result  may  be  that 
I  and  you  who  ask  and  answer  may  also  be  put  on  our  trial. 

Protagoras  at  first  made  a  show  of  refusing,  as  he  said  that 
the  argument  was  not  encouraging  ;  at  length,  he  consented 
to  answer. 

Now  then,  I  said,  begin  at  the  beginning  and  answer  me. 
You  think  that  some  men  are  moderate  [or  temperate] ,  and  yet 

Yes,  he  said  ;  let  that  be  admitted. 

And  moderation  is  good  sense? 


And  good  sense  is  good  counsel  in  doing  injustice  ? 


If  they  succeed,  I  said,  or  if  they  do  not  succeed  ? 

If  they  succeed. 

And  you  would  admit  the  existence  of  goods  ? 


And  is  the  good  that  which  is  expedient  for  man? 

Yes,  indeed,  he  said  :  and  there  are  some  things  which  may 
be  inexpedient,  and  yet  I  call  them  good. 

I  thought  that  Protagoras  was  getting  ruffled  and  excited  ; 
he  seemed  to  be  setting  himself  in  an  attitude  of  war.  Seeing 
this,  I  minded  my  business,  and  gently  said  : — 

When  you  say,  Protagoras,  that  things  inexpedient  are  good,  334 
do   you    mean    inexpedient   for  man  only,  or  inexpedient  alto 
gether  ?  and  do  you  call  the  latter  good  ? 

Certainly  not  the  last,  he  replied ;  for  I  know  of  many 
things,  meats,  drinks,  medicines,  and  ten  thousand  other  things, 
which  are  partly  expedient  for  man,  and  partly  inexpedient  ; 
and  some  which  are  expedient  for  horses,  and  not  for  men ; 
and  some  for  oxen  only,  and  some  for  dogs  ;  and  some  for  no 
animals,  but  only  for  trees  ;  and  some  for  the  roots  of  trees 
and  not  for  their  branches,  as  for  example,  manure,  which  is  a 
good  thing  when  laid  about  the  roots,  but  utterly  destructive 
if  thrown  upon  the  shoots  and  young  branches ;  or  I  may 
instance  olive  oil,  which  is  mischievous  to  all  plants,  and 
generally  most  injurious  to  the  hair  of  every  animal  with  the 


exception  of  man,  but  beneficial  to  human  hair  and  to  the 
human  body  generally;  and  even  in  this  application  (so 
various  and  changeable  is  the  nature  of  the  benefit)  that 
which  is  the  greatest  good  to  the  outward  parts  of  a  man,  is 
a  very  great  evil  to  his  inward  parts  :  and  for  this  reason 
physicians  always  forbid  their  patients  the  use  of  oil  in  their 
food,  except  in  very  small  quantities,  just  enough  to  extinguish 
the  disagreeable  sensation  of  smell  in  meats  and  sauces. 

When  he  had  given  this  answer,  the  company  cheered  him. 
And  I  said  :  Protagoras,  I  have  a  wretched  memory,  and 
when  any  one  makes  a  long  speech  to  me  I  never  remember 
what  he  is  talking  about  As  then,  if  I  had  been  deaf,  and 
you  were  going  to  converse  with  me,  you  would  have  had  to 
raise  your  voice  ;  so  now,  having  such  a  bad  memory,  I  will 
ask  you  to  cut  your  answers  shorter,  if  you  would  take  me 
with  you. 

What  do  you  mean  ?  he  said  :  how  am  I  to  shorten  my 
answers  ?  shall  I  make  them  too  short  ? 

Certainly  not,  I  said. 

But  short  enough  ? 

Yes,  I  said. 

Shall  I  answer  what  appears  to  me  to  be  short  enough,  or 
what  appears  to  you  to  be  short  enough  ? 

I   have  heard,  I   said,  that  you   can  speak  and  teach  others 

to  speak  about    the   same   things   at    such   length   that  words 

never  seemed  to  fail,  or  with   such  brevity  that  no   one   could 

335  use  fewer  of  them.     Please  therefore,  if  you  talk  with   me,  to 

adopt  the  latter  or  more  compendious  method. 

Socrates,  he  replied,  many  a  battle  of  words  have  I  fought, 
and  if  I  had  followed  the  method  of  disputation  which  my 
adversaries  desired,  as  you  want  me  to  do,  I  should  have  been 
no  better  than  another,  and  the  name  of  Protagoras  would 
have  been  nowhere. 

I  saw  that  he  was  not  satisfied  with  his  previous  answers, 
and  that  he  would  not  play  the  part  of  answerer  any  more  if 
he  could  help  ;  and  I  considered  that  there  was  no  call  upon 
me  to  continue  the  conversation  ;  so  I  said  :  Protagoras,  I  do 
not  wish  to  force  the  conversation  upon  you  if  you  had  rather 
not,  but  when  you  are  willing  to  argue  with  me  in  such  a 


way  that  I  can  follow  you,  then  I  will  argue  with  you.  Now 
you,  as  is  said  of  you  by  others  and  as  you  say  of  yourself, 
are  able  to  have  discussions  in  shorter  forms  of  speech  as  well 
as  in  longer,  for  you  are  a  master  of  wisdom  ;  but  I  cannot 
manage  these  long  speeches  :  I  only  wish  that  I  could.  You, 
on  the  other  hand,  who  are  capable  of  either,  ought  to  speak 
shorter  as  I  beg  you,  and  then  we  might  converse.  But  I  see 
that  you  are  disinclined,  and  as  I  have  an  engagement  which 
will  prevent  my  staying  to  hear  you  at  length  (for  I  have  to 
be  in  another  place),  I  will  depart ;  although  I  should  have 
liked  to  have  heard  you. 

Thus  I  spoke,  and  was  rising  from  my  seat,  when  Callias 
seized  me  by  the  hand,  and  in  his  left  hand  caught  hold  of 
this  old  cloak  of  mine.  He  said :  We  cannot  let  you  go, 
Socrates,  for  if  you  leave  us  there  will  be  an  end  of  our  dis 
cussions  :  I  must  therefore  beg  you  to  remain,  as  there  is 
nothing  in  the  world  that  I  should  like  better  than  to  hear 
you  and  Protagoras  discourse.  Do  not  deny  the  company 
this  pleasure. 

Now  I  had  got  up,  and  was  in  the  act  of  departure.  Son  of 
Hipponicus,  I  replied,  I  have  always  admired,  and  do  now 
heartily  applaud  and  love  your  philosophical  spirit,  and  I 
would  gladly  comply  with  your  request,  if  I  could.  But  the 
truth  is  that  I  cannot.  And  what  you  ask  is  as  great  an  336 
impossibility  to  me,  as  if  you  bade  me  run  a  race  with  Crison 
of  Himera,  when  in  his  prime,  or  with  some  one  of  the  long 
or  day  course  runners.  To  that  I  should  reply,  that  I  humbly 
make  the  same  request  to  my  own  legs  ;  and  they  cannot 
comply.  And  therefore  if  you  want  to  see  Crison  and  me  in 
the  same  stadium,  you  must  bid  him  slacken  his  speed  to 
mine,  for  I  cannot  run  quickly,  and  he  can  run  slowly.  And 
in  like  manner  if  you  want  to  hear  me  and  Protagoras  dis 
coursing,  you  must  ask  him  to  shorten  his  answers,  and  keep 
to  the  point,  as  he  did  at  first  ;  if  not,  how  can  there  be  any 
discussion  ?  For  discussion  is  one  thing,  and  making  an  oration 
is  quite  another,  in  my  humble  opinion. 

But  you  see,  Socrates,  said  Callias,  that  Protagoras  may 
fairly  claim  to  speak  in  his  own  way,  just  as  you  claim  to 
speak  in  yours. 


Here  Alcibiades  interposed,  and  said  :  That,  Callias,  is  not 
a  fair  statement  of  the  case.  For  our  friend  Socrates  admits 
that  he  cannot  make  a  speech — in  this  he  yields  the  palm  to 
Protagoras :  but  I  should  be  greatly  surprised  if  he  yielded  to 
any  living  man  in  the  power  of  holding  and  apprehending  an 
argument.  Now  if  Protagoras  will  make  a  similar  admission, 
and  confess  that  he  is  inferior  to  Socrates  in  argumentative 
skill,  that  is  enough  for  Socrates ;  but  if  he  claims  a  superiority 
in  argument  as  well,  let  him  ask  and  answer — not,  when  a 
question  is  asked,  having  recourse  to  shifts  and  evasions,  and 
instead  of  answering,  making  a  speech  at  such  length  that  most 
of  his  hearers  forget  the  question  at  issue  (not  that  Socrates  is 
likely  to  forget — I  will  be  bound  for  that,  although  he  may 
pretend  in  fun  that  he  has  a  bad  memory).  And  Socrates 
appears  to  me  to  be  more  in  the  right  than  Protagoras ;  that 
is  my.  view,  and  every  man  ought  to  say  what  he  thinks. 

When  Alcibiades  had  done  speaking,  some  one — Critias,  I 
believe — went  on  to  say :  O  Prodicus  and  Hippias,  Callias 
appears  to  me  to  be  a  partisan  of  Protagoras  :  and  this  led 
Alcibiades,  who  loves  opposition,  to  take  the  other  side.  But 
we  should  not  be  partisans  either  of  Socrates  or  of  Protagoras  ; 
let  us  rather  unite  in  entreating  both  of  them  not  to  break  up 
the  discussion. 

337  Prodicus  added  :  That,  Critias,  seems  to  me  to  be  well  said, 
for  those  who  are  present  at  such  discussions  ought  to  be 
impartial  hearers  of  both  the  speakers ;  remembering,  however, 
that  impartiality  is  not  the  same  as  equality,  for  both  sides 
should  be  impartially  heard,  and  yet  an  equal  meed  should  not 
be  assigned  to  both  of  them  ;  but  to  the  wiser  a  higher  meed 
should  be  given,  and  a  lower  to  the  less  wise.  And  I  as  well 
as  Critias  would  beg  you,.  Protagoras  and  Socrates,  to  grant 
our  request,  which  is,  that  you  will  argue  with  one  another  and 
not  wrangle ;  for  friends  argue  with  friends  out  of  good-will, 
but  only  adversaries  and  enemies  wrangle.  And  then  our 
meeting  will  be  delightful ;  for  in  this  way  you,  who  are  the 
speakers,  will  be  most  likely  to  win  esteem,  and  not  praise  j 
only,  among  us  who  are  your  audience  ;  for  esteem  is  a  sincere 
conviction  of  the  hearers'  souls,  but  praise  is  often  an  insincere 
expression  of  men  uttering  falsehoods  contrary  to  their  con- 


viction.  And  thus  we  who  are  the  hearers  will  be  gratified  and 
not  pleased ;  for  gratification  is  of  the  mind  when  receiving 
wisdom  and  knowledge,  but  pleasure  is  of  the  body  when 
eating  or  experiencing  some  other  bodily  delight.  Thus  spoke 
Prodicus,  and  many  of  the  company  applauded  his  words. 

Hippias  the  sage  spoke  next.  He  said  :  All  of  you  who  are 
here  present  I  reckon  to  be  kinsmen  and  friends  and  fellow- 
citizens,  by  nature  and  not  by  law ;  for  by  nature  like  is  akin 
to  like,  whereas  law  is  the  tyrant  of  mankind,  and  often 
compels  us  to  do  many  things  which  are  against  nature.  How 
great  would  be  the  disgrace  then,  if  we,  who  know  the  nature 
of  things,  and  are  the  wisest  of  the  Hellenes,  and  as  such  are 
met  together  in  this  city,  which  is  the  metropolis  of  wisdom, 
and  in  the  greatest  and  most  glorious  house  of  this  city,  should 
have  nothing  to  show  worthy  of  this  height  of  dignity,  but 
should  only  quarrel  with  one  another  like  the  meanest  of 
mankind.  I  do  pray  and  advise  you,  Protagoras,  and  you, 
Socrates,  to  agree  upon  a  compromise.  Let  us  be  your  peace 
makers.  And  do  not  you,  Socrates,  aim  at  this  precise  and 
extreme  brevity  in  discourse,  if  Protagoras  objects,  but  loosen  338 
and  let  go  the  reins  of  speech,  that  your  words  may  be  grander 
and  more  becoming  to  you1.  Neither  do  you,  Protagoras,  go 
forth  on  the  gale  with  every  sail  set  out  of  sight  of  land  into 
an  ocean  of  words,  but  let  there  be  a  mean  observed  by  both  of 
you.  Do  as  I  say.  And  let  me  also  persuade  you  to  choose 
an  arbiter  or  overseer  or  president ;  he  will  keep  watch  over 
your  words  and  will  prescribe  their  proper  length. 

This  proposal  was  received  by  the  company  with  universal 
approval ;  Callias  said  that  he  would  not  let  me  off,  and  they 
begged  me  to  choose  an  arbiter.  But  I  said  that  to  choose 
an  umpire  of  discourse  would  be  unseemly  ;  for  if  the  person 
chosen  was  inferior,  then  the  inferior  or  worse  ought  not  to 
preside  over  the  better ;  or  if  he  was  equal,  neither  would  that 
be  well ;  for  he  who  is  our  equal  will  do  as  we  do,  and  what 
will  be  the  use  of  choosing  him?  And  if  you  say  'Let  us  have 
a  better  then' — to  that  I  answer  that  you  cannot  have  any  one 
who  is  wiser  than  Protagoras.  And  if  you  choose  another  who 
is  not  really  better,  and  whom  you  only  say  is  better,  to  put 

1  Reading 


another  over  him  as  though  he  were  an  inferior  person  would 
be  an  unworthy  reflection  on  him  ;  not  that,  as  far  as  I  am 
concerned,  any  reflection  is  of  much  consequence  to  me.  Let 
me  tell  you  then  what  I  will  do  in  order  that  the  conversation 
and  discussion  may  go  on  as  you  desire.  If  Protagoras  is 
not  disposed  to  answer,  let  him  ask  and  I  will  answer ;  and  I 
will  endeavour  to  show  at  the  same  time  how,  as  I  maintain, 
he  ought  to  answer :  and  when  I  have  answered  as  many 
questions  as  he  likes  to  ask,  let  him  in  like  manner  answer ; 
and  if  he  seems  to  be  not  very  ready  at  answering  the  precise 
question  asked  of  him,  you  and  I  will  unite  in  entreating  him, 
as  you  entreated  me,  not  to  spoil  the  discussion.  And  this  will 
require  no  special  arbiter :  all  of  you  shall  be  arbiters. 

This  was  generally  approved,  and  Protagoras,  though  very 
much  against  his  will,  was  obliged  to  agree  that  he  would  ask 
questions  ;  and  when  he  had  put  a  sufficient  number  of  them, 
that  he  would  answer  in  his  turn  those  which  he  was  asked 
in  short  replies.  He  began  to  put  his  questions  as  follows  :— 

I  am  of  opinion,  Socrates,  he  said,  that  skill  in  poetry  is 
339  the  principal  part  of  education  ;  and  this  I  conceive  to  be  the 
power  of  knowing  what  compositions  of  the  poets  are  correct, 
and  what  are  not,  and  how  they  are  to  be  distinguished,  and 
of  explaining  when  asked  the  reason  of  the  difference.  And 
I  propose  to  transfer  the  question  which  you  and  I  have  been 
discussing  to  the  domain  of  poetry,  speaking  as  before  of  virtue 
[or  excellence],  but  in  reference  to  a  passage  of  a  poet.  Now 
Simonides  says  to  Scopas  the  son  of  Creon  the  Thessalian  : — 

'  Hardly  on  the  one  hand  can  a  man  become  truly  good ;  built  four-square 
in  hands  and  feet  and  mind,  a  work  without  a  flaw.' 

Do  you  know  the  poem  ?    or  shall  I  repeat  the  whole  ? 

There  is  no  need,  I  said  ;  for  I  am  perfectly  well  acquainted 
with  the  ode,  of  which  I  have  made  a  careful  study. 

Very  well,  he  said.  And  do  you  think  that  the  ode  is  a 
good  composition,  and  true  ? 

Yes,  I  said,  both  good  and  true. 

But  if  there  is  a  contradiction,  can  the  composition  be  good 
or  true  ? 

No,  not  in  that  case,  I  replied. 

And  is  there  not  a  contradiction?    he  asked.     Reflect. 


Well,  my  friend,  I  have  reflected. 

And  does  not  the  poet  proceed  to  say,  '  I  do  not  agree 
with  the  word  of  Pittacus,  albeit  the  utterance  of  a  wise  man : 
Hardly,'  says  he,  '  can  a  man  be  good.'  Now  you  will  observe 
that  this  is  said  by  the  same  poet. 

I  know  that,  I  said. 

And  do  you  think,  he  said,  that  the  two  sayings  are  con 
sistent  ? 

Yes,  I  said,  I  think  so  (at  the  same  time  I  could  not  help 
fearing  that  there  might  be  something  in  what  he  said).  And 
you  think  otherwise  ? 

Why,  he  said,  how  can  he  be  consistent  in  both?  First  of 
all,  premising  as  his  own  thought,  '  Hardly  can  a  man  become 
truly  good ;'  and  then  a  little  further  on  in  the  poem,  for 
getting,  and  blaming  Pittacus  and  refusing  to  agree  with  him, 
when  he  says,  '  Hardly  can  a  man  be  good,'  which  is  the  very 
same  thing.  And  yet  when  he  blames  him  who  says  the 
same  with  himself,  he  blames  himself;  so  that  he  must  be 
wrong  either  in  his  first  or  his  second  assertion. 

Many  of  the  audience  cheered  and  applauded  this.  And  I 
felt  at  first  giddy  and  faint,  as  if  I  had  received  a  blow  from 
the  expert  hand  of  a  boxer,  when  I  heard  his  words  and  the 
sound  of  the  cheering ;  and  to  confess  the  truth,  I  wanted  to 
get  time  to  think  what  the  meaning  of  the  poet  really  was. 
So  I  turned  to  Prodicus  and  called  him.  Prodicus,  I  said, 
Simonides  is  a  countryman  of  yours,  and  you  ought  to  come 
to  his  aid.  I  must  appeal  to  you,  like  the  river  Scamander  340 
in  Homer,  who,  when  beleaguered  by  Achilles,  summons  the 
Simois  to  aid  him,  saying : 

'Brother  dear,  let  us  both  together  stay  the  force  of  the  hero1.' 

And  I  summon  you,  for  I  am  afraid  that  Protagoras  will  make 
an  end  of  Simonides.  Now  is  the  time  to  rehabilitate  Simonides, 
by  the  application  of  your  charming  philosophy  of  synonyms, 
which  distinguishes  'will'  and  'wish'  and  many  similar  words 
which  you  mentioned  in  your  admirable  speech.  And  I  should 
like  to  know  whether  you  would  agree  with  me  ;  for  I  am  of 
opinion  that  there  is  no  contradiction  in  the  words  of  Simonides. 

1  II.  xxi.  308. 


And  first  of  all  I  wish  that  you  would  say  whether,  in  your 
opinion,  Prodicus,  'being'  is  the  same  as  'becoming.' 

Not  the  same,  certainly,  replied  Prodicus. 

Did  not  Simonides  first  set  forth,  as  his  own  view,  that 
'Hardly  can  a  man  become  truly  good'? 

Quite  right,  said  Prodicus. 

And  then  he  blames  Pittacus,  not,  as  Protagoras  imagines,  for 
repeating  that  which  he  says  himself,  but  for  saying  something 
different  from  himself.  Pittacus  does  not  say  as  Simonides  says, 
that  hardly  can  a  man  become  good,  but  hardly  can  a  man  be 
good:  and  our  friend  Prodicus  would  maintain  that  being,  Prota 
goras,  is  not  the  same  as  becoming  ;  and  if  they  are  not  the 
same,  then  Simonides  is  not  inconsistent  with  himself.  I  dare 
say  that  Prodicus  and  many  others  would  say,  as  Hesiod  says, 
'  Hardly  can  a  man  become  good,  for  the  gods  have  placed  toil 
in  front  of  virtue  ;  but  when  you  have  climbed  the  height,  then 
the  acquisition  of  virtue,  however  difficult,  is  easy  V 

Prodicus  heard  and  approved  ;  but  Protagoras  said  :  Your 
correction,  Socrates,  involves  a  greater  error  than  is  contained 
in  the  sentence  which  you  are  correcting. 

Alas !  I  said,  Protagoras  ;  then  I  am  a  sorry  physician,  and 
clo  but  aggravate  a  disorder  which  I  am  seeking  to  cure. 

The  fact,  he  said,  is  as  I  have  stated. 

How  is  that  ?  I  asked. 

The  poet,  he  replied,  could  never  have  made  such  a  mistake 
as  to  say  that  virtue,  which  in  the  opinion  of  all  men  is  the 
hardest  of  all  things,  can  be  easily  acquired. 

Well,  I  said,  and  how  fortunate  are  we  in  having  Prodicus 
among  us,  at  the  right  moment ;  for  he  has  a  wisdom,  Pro 
tagoras,  which,  as  I  imagine,  is  more  than  human  and  of  very 
341  ancient  date,  and  may  be  as  old  as  Simonides  or  even  older. 
Learned  as  you  are  in  many  things,  you  appear  to  know  no 
thing  of  this  ;  but  I  know,  for  I  am  a  disciple  of  his.  And  now, 
if  I  am  not  mistaken,  you  do  not  understand  the  word  'hard' 
(xoXe-Trov)  in  the  sense  which  Simonides  intended  ;  and  I  must 
correct  you,  as  Prodicus  corrects  me  when  I  use  the  word 
'dreadful'  (5ea-oY)  as  a  term  of  praise.  If  I  say  that  Protagoras 
or  any  one  else  is  a  dreadfully  wise  man,  he  asks  me  if  I  am  not 
1  .Works  and  Days,  264  foil. 


ashamed  of  calling  that  which  is  good  dreadful ;  and  then  he 
explains  to  me  that  the  term  'dreadful'  is  always  taken  in  a 
bad  sense,  and  that  no  one  speaks  of  being  dreadfully  healthy 
or  wealthy,  or  of  dreadful  peace,  but  of  dreadful  war,  dreadful 
poverty,  dreadful  disease,  meaning  by  the  term  '  dreadful,'  evil. 
And  I  think  that  Simonides  and  his  countrymen  the  Ceans, 
when  they  spoke  of  'hard'  meant  'evil,'  or  something  which  you 
do  not  understand.  Let  us  ask  Prodicus,  for  he  ought  to  be 
able  to  answer  questions  about  the  dialect  of  Simonides.  What 
did  he  mean,  Prodicus,  by  the  term  '  hard'  ?  v 

Evil,  said  Prodicus. 

And  therefore,  I  said,  Prodicus,  he  blames  Pittacus  for  saying, 
'  Hard  is  the  good,'  just  as  if  that  were  equivalent  to  saying, 
Evil  is  the  good. 

Yes,  he  said,  that  was  certainly  his  meaning;  and  he  is 
twitting  Pittacus  with  ignorance  of  the  use  of  terms,  which  in 
a  Lesbian,  who  has  been  accustomed  to  speak  a  barbarous 
language,  is  natural. 

Do  you  hear,  Protagoras,  I  asked,  what  our  friend  Prodicus  is 
saying  ?  And  have  you  an  answer  for  him  ? 

You  are  all  wrong,  Prodicus,  said  Protagoras  ;  and  I  know 
very  well  that  Simonides  in  using  the  word  'hard'  meant  what 
all  of  us  mean,  not  evil,  but  that  which  is  not  easy— that  which 
takes  a  great  deal  of  trouble.  Of  this  I  am  positive. 

I  said  :  I  also  incline  to  believe,  Protagoras,  that  this  was 
the  meaning  of  Simonides,  of  which  our  friend  Prodicus  was  very 
well  aware,  but  he  thought  that  he  would  make  fun,  and  try 
if  you  could  maintain  your  thesis  ;  for  that  Simonides  could 
never  have  meant  the  other  is  clearly  proved ^by  the  context,  in 
which  he  says  that  God  only  has  this  gift.  Now  he  cannot 
surely  mean  to  say  that  to  be  good  is  evil,  when  he  afterwards 
proceeds  to  say  that  God  only  has  this  gift,  and  that  this  is  the 
attribute  of  him  and  of  no  other.  For  if  this  be  his  meaning, 
Prodicus  would  impute  to  Simonides  a  character  of  recklessness 
which  is  very  unlike  his  countrymen.  And  I  should  like  to  tell  342 
you,  I  said,  what  I  imagine  to  be  the  real  meaning  of  Simonides 
in  this  poem,  if  you  will  test  what,  in  your  way  of  speaking, 
would  be  called  my  skill  in  poetry  ;  or  if  you  would  rather,  I 
will  be  the  listener. 


Protagoras  hearing  me  offer  this,  replied  :  As  you  please  ;  and 
Hippias,  Prodicus,  and  the  others  told  me  by  all  means  to  do 
as  I  proposed. 

Then  now,  I  said,  I  will  endeavour  to  explain  to  you  my 
opinion  about  this  poem  of  Simonides.  There  is  a  very  ancient 
philosophy  which  is  more  cultivated  in  Crete  and  Lacedaemon 
than  in  any  other  part  of  Hellas,  and  there  are  more  philoso 
phers  in  those  countries  than  anywhere  else  in  the  world.  This, 
however,  is  a  secret  which  the  Lacedaemonians  deny ;  and  they 
pretend  to  be  ignorant,  just  because  they  do  not  wish  to  have  it 
thought  that  they  rule  the  world  by  wisdom,  like  the  Sophists 
of  whom  Protagoras  was  speaking,  and  not  by  valour  of  arms  ; 
considering  that  if  the  reason  of  their  superiority  were  disclosed, 
all  men  would  be  practising  their  wisdom.  And  this  secret  of 
theirs  has  never  been  discovered  by  the  imitators  of  Lacedae 
monian  fashions  in  other  cities,  who  go  about  with  their  ears 
bruised  in  imitation  of  them,  and  have  the  caestus  bound  on 
their  arms,  and  are  always  in  training,  and  wear  short  cloaks ; 
for  they  imagine  that  these  are  the  practices  which  have  enabled 
the  Lacedaemonians  to  conquer  the  other  Hellenes.  Now  when 
the  Lacedaemonians  want  to  unbend  and  hold  free  conversation 
with  their  wise  men,  and  are  no  longer  satisfied  with  mere  secret 
intercourse,  they  drive  out  all  these  laconizers,  and  any  other 
foreigners  who  may  happen  to  be  in  their  country,  and  they 
hold  a  philosophical  seance  unknown  to  the  strangers  ;  and  they 
themselves  forbid  their  young  men  to  go  out  into  other  cities  (in 
this  they  are  like  the  Cretans),  in  order  that  they  may  not  un 
learn  the  lessons  which  they  have  taught  them.  And  in  Lace- 
daemon  and  Crete  not  only  men  but  also  women  have  a  pride  in 
their  high  cultivation.  And  hereby  you  may  know  that  I  am 
right  in  attributing  to  the  Lacedaemonians  this  excellence  in 
philosophy  and  speculation  :  If  a  man  converses  with  the  most 
ordinary  Lacedaemonian,  he  will  find  him  seldom  good  for  much 
in  general  conversation,  but  at  any  point  in  the  discourse  he  will 
be  darting  out  some  notable  saying,  terse  and  full  of  meaning, 
with  unerring  aim  ;  and  the  person  with  whom  he  is  talking 
seems  to  be  like  a  child  in  his  hands.  And  many  of  our  own  age 
and  of  former  ages  have  noted  that  the  true  Lacedaemonian 
type  of  character  has  the  love  of  philosophy  even  stronger  than 


the  love  of  gymnastics  ;  they  are  conscious  that  only  a  perfectly 
educated  man  is  capable  of  uttering  such  expressions.  Such  were  343 
Thales  of  Miletus,  and  Pittacus  of  Mitylene,  and  Bias  of  Priene, 
and  our  own  Solon,  and  Cleobulus  the  Lindian,  and  Myson  the 
Chenian  ;  and  seventh  in  the  catalogue  of  wise  men  was  the 
Lacedaemonian  Chilo.  All  these  were  lovers  and  emulators  and 
disciples  of  the  culture  of  the  Lacedaemonians,  and  any  one  may 
perceive  that  their  wisdom  was  of  this  character,  consisting  of 
short  memorable  sentences,  which  individuals  uttered.  And  they 
met  together  and  dedicated  in  the  temple  of  Apollo  at  Delphi, 
as  the  first-fruits  of  their  wisdom,  the  far-famed  inscriptions, 
which  are  in  all  men's  mouths,  '  Know  thyself,'  and  '  Nothing 
too  much.' 

Why  do  I  say  all  this  ?  I  am  explaining  that  this  Lacedae 
monian  brevity  was  the  style  of  primitive  philosophy.  Now 
there  was  a  saying  of  Pittacus  which  was  privately  circulated 
and  received  the  approbation  of  the  wise,  '  Hard  to  be  good.' 
And  Simonides,  who  was  ambitious  of  the  fame  of  wisdom,  was 
aware  that  if  he  could  overthrow  this  saying,  then,  as  if  he  had 
won  a  victory  over  some  famous  athlete,  he  would  carry  off  the 
palm  among  his  contemporaries.  And  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  he 
composed  the  entire  poem  with  the  secret  intention  of  damaging 
Pittacus  and  his  saying. 

Let  us  all  unite  in  examining  his  words,  and  see  whether  I  am 
speaking  the  truth.  Simonides  must  have  been  a  lunatic,  if,  in 
the  very  first  words  of  the  poem,  wanting  to  say  only  that  to 
be  good  is  hard,  he  inserted  fxer,  'on  the  one  hand'  (on  the  one 
hand  to  become  good  is  hard) ;  there  would  be  no  possible  rea 
son  for  the  introduction  of  /oteV,  unless  you  suppose  him  to  speak 
with  a  hostile  reference  to  the  words  of  Pittacus.  Pittacus  is 
saying  '  Hard  to  be  good,'  and  he  says,  controverting  this,  '  No, 
the  truly  hard  thing,  Pittacus,  is  to  become  good,'  not  joining 
'truly'  with  'good,'  but  with  'hard.'  Not  the  hard  thing  is  to 
be  truly  good,  as  though  there  were  some  truly  good  men,  and 
there  were  others  who  were  good  but  not  truly  good  (that  would 
be  a  very  simple  observation,  and  quite  unworthy  of  Simonides) ; 
but  you  must  suppose  him  to  make  a  trajection  of  the  word 
'truly'  (dAafleW),  construing  the  saying  of  Pittacus  thus  (and  let  us 
imagine  Pittacus  to  be  speaking  and  Simonides  answering  him) : 


'  O  my  friends,'  says  Pittacus,  '  hard  to  be  good,'  and  Simonides 
344  answers,  '  In  that,  Pittacus,  you  are  mistaken  ;  the  difficulty  is 
not  to  be  good,  but  on  the  one  hand,  to  become  good,  four 
square  in  hands  and  feet  and  mind,  without  a  flaw — that  is 
hard  truly.'  This  way  of  reading  the  passage  accounts  for  the 
insertion  of  (pev)  '  on  the  one  hand,'  and  for  the  use  of  the  word 
1  truly,'  which  is  rightly  placed  at  the  end  ;  and  all  that  follows 
tends  to  prove  that  this  is  the  meaning.  A  great  deal  might  be 
said  in  praise  of  the  details  of  the  poem,  which  is  a  charming 
piece  of  workmanship,  and  very  finished,  but  that  would  be 
tedious.  I  should  like,  however,  to  point  out  the  general  inten 
tion  of  the  poem,  which  is  certainly  designed  in  every  part  to 
be  a  refutation  of  the  saying  of  Pittacus.  For  he  speaks  in  what 
follows  a  little  further  on  as  if  he  meant  to  argue  that  although 
there  is  a  difficulty  in  becoming  good,  yet  this  is  possible  for  a 
time,  and  only  for  a  time.  But  having  become  good,  to  remain 
in  a  good  state  and  be  good,  as  you,  Pittacus,  affirm,  is  not  pos 
sible,  and  is  not  granted  to  man  ;  God  only  has  this  blessing  ; 
'but  man  cannot  help  being  bad  when  the  force  of  circum 
stances  overpowers  him.'  Now  whom  does  the  force  of  circum 
stance  overpower  in  the  command  of  a  vessel  ? — not  the  private 
individual,  for  he  is  always  overpowered  ;  and  as  one  who  is 
already  prostrate  cannot  be  overthrown,  but  only  he  who  is 
standing  upright  and  not  he  who  is  prostrate  can  be  laid  pros 
trate,  so  the  force  of  circumstances  can  only  be  said  to  over 
power  him  who  has  resources,  and  not  him  who  is  at  all  times 
helpless.  The  descent  of  a  great  storm  may  make  the  pilot 
helpless,  or  the  severity  of  the  season  the  husbandman  or  the 
physician  ;  for  the  good  may  become  bad,  as  another  poet  wit 
nesses  : — 

'The  good  are  sometimes  good  and  sometimes  bad.' 

But  the  bad  does  not  become  bad  ;  he  is  always  bad.  So 
that  when  the  force  of  circumstances  overpowers  the  man  of 
resources  and  skill  and  virtue,  then  he  cannot  help  being  bad. 
And  you,  Pittacus,  are  saying,  '  Hard  to  be  good.'  Now  there 
is  a  difficulty  in  becoming  good  ;  and  yet  this  is  possible :  but 
to  be  good  is  an  impossibility  ;  '  for  he  who  does  well  is  the 
good  man,  and  he  who  does  ill  is  the  bad.'  But  what  sort  of 


doing  is  good  in  letters  ?  and  what  sort  of  doing  makes  a  man  345 
good  in  letters?  Clearly  the  knowing  of  them.  And  what 
start  of  well-doing  makes  a  man  a  good  physician  ?  Clearly 
the  knowledge  of  the  art  of  healing  the  sick.  '  But  he  who  does 
ill  is  the  bad.'  Now  who  becomes  a  bad  physician  ?  Clearly 
he  who  is  in  the  first  place  a  physician,  and  in  the  second 
place  a  good  physician  ;  for  he  may  become  a  bad  one  also  : 
but  none  of  us  unskilled  individuals  can  by  any  amount  of 
doing  ill  become  physicians,  any  more  than  we  can  become 
carpenters  or  anything  of  that  sort ;  and  he  who  by  doing  ill 
cannot  become  a  physician  at  all,  clearly  cannot  become  a  bad 
physician.  In  like  manner  the  good  may  become  deteriorated 
by  time,  or  toil,  or  disease,  or  other  accident  (the  only  real 
ill-doing  is  the  deprivation  of  knowledge),  but  the  bad  man 
will  never  become  bad,  for  he  is  always  bad  ;  and  if  he  were 
to  become  bad,  he  must  previously  have  been  good.  Thus  the 
words  of  the  poem  tend  to  show  that  on  the  one  hand  a  man 
cannot  be  continuously  good,  but  that  he  may  become  good 
and  may  also  become  bad  ;  and  again  that  '  they  are  the  best 
for  the  longest  time  whom  the  gods  love.' 

All  this  relates  to  Pittacus,  as  is  further  proved  by  the 
sequel.  For  he  adds  :  '  Therefore  I  will  not  throw  away  my 
life  in  searching  after  the  impossible,  hoping  in  vain  to  find  a 
perfectly  faultless  man  among  those  who  partake  of  the  fruit 
of  the  broad-bosomed  earth,  and  when  I  have  found  him  to 
tell  you  of  him'  (this  is  the  vehement  way  in  which  he  pursues 
his  attack  upon  Pittacus  throughout  the  whole  poem)  :  '  but 
him  who  does  no  evil,  voluntarily  I  praise  and  love  ; — not  even 
the  gods  war  against  necessity.'  All  this  has  a  similar  drift, 
for  Simonides  was  not  so  ignorant  as  to  say  that  he  praised 
those  who  did  no  evil  voluntarily,  as  though  there  were  some 
who  did  evil  voluntarily.  For  no  wise  man,  as  I  believe,  will 
allow  that  any  human  being  errs  voluntarily,  or  voluntarily 
does  evil  and  dishonourable  actions  ;  but  they  are  very  well 
aware  that  all  who  do  evil  and  dishonourable  things  do  them 
against  their  will.  And  Simonides  never  says  that  he  praises 
him  who  does  no  evil  voluntarily;  the  word  'voluntarily' 
applies  to  himself.  For  he  was  under  the  impression  that  a  346 
good  man  might  often  compel  himself  to  love  and  praise 


another l,  and  to  be  the  friend  and  approver  of  another ;  and 
that  there  might  be  an  involuntary  love,  such  as  a  man  might 
feel  to  an  unnatural  father  or  mother,  or  country,  or  the  like. 
Now  bad  men,  when  their  parents  or  country  have  any  defects, 
rejoice  at  the  sight  of  them,  and  find  fault  with  them  and 
expose  and  denounce  them  to  others,  under  the  idea  that  the 
rest  of  mankind  will  be  less  likely  to  take  themselves  to  task 
and  accuse  them  of  neglect ;  and  they  blame  their  defects  far 
more  than  they  deserve,  in  order  that  the  odium  which  is 
necessarily  incurred  by  them  may  be  increased  :  but  the  good 
man  dissembles  his  feelings,  and  constrains  himself  to  praise 
them  ;  and  if  they  have  wronged  him  and  he  is  angry,  he 
pacifies  his  anger  and  is  reconciled,  and  compels  himself  to 
love  and  praise  his  own  flesh  and  blood.  And  Simonides,  as 
is  probable,  considered  that  he  himself  had  often  had  to  praise 
and  magnify  a  tyrant  or  the  like,  much  against  his  will,  aftd. 
he  also  wishes  to  imply  to  Pittacus  that  he  is  not  censorious 
and  does  not  censure  him.  'For  I  am  satisfied,'  he  says, 
'when  a  man  is  neither  bad  nor  very  stupid,  and  when  he 
knows  justice  (which  is  the  health  of  states),  and  is  of  sound 
mind,  I  will  find  no  fault  with  him,  for  I  am  not  given  to 
finding  fault,  and  there  are  innumerable  fools'  (implying  that 
if  he  delighted  in  censure  he  might  have  abundant  opportunity 
of  finding  fault).  'All  things  are  good  with  which  evil  is 
unmingled.'  In  these  latter  words  he  does  not  mean  to  say 
that  all  things  are  good  which  have  no  evil  in  them,  as  you 
might  say  '  All  things  are  white  which  have  no  black  in  them,' 
for  that  would  be  ridiculous ;  but  he  means  to  say  that  he 
accepts  and  finds  no  fault  with  the  moderate  or  intermediate 
state.  '  I  do  not  hope,'  he  says,  '  to  find  a  perfectly  blameless 
man  among  those  who  partake  of  the  fruits  of  the  broad- 
bosomed  earth,  and  when  I  have  found  him  to  tell  you  of  him  ; 
in  this  sense  I  praise  no  man.  But  he  who  is  moderately 
good,  and  does  no  evil,  is  good  enough  for  me,  who  love  and 
approve  every  one'  (and  here  observe  that  he  uses  a  Lesbian 
word,  liraiVrj/uu,  because  he  is  addressing  Pittacus, — '  who  love 
and  approve  every  one  voluntarily,  who  does  no  evil:'  and 

1   Reading  ^tXett/  Kal  (Traivdv  <al  (foiXov  rivl  K.r.X. 
VOL.  I.  M 


that  the  stop  should  be  put  after  'voluntarily');  'but  there 
are  some  whom  I  involuntarily  praise  and  love.  And  you,  347 
Pittacus,  I  would  never  have  blamed,  if  you  had  spoken  what 
was  moderately  good  and  true ;  but  I  do  blame  you  because, 
wearing  the  appearance  of  truth,  you  are  speaking  falsely 
about  the  greatest  matters.'  And  this,  I  said,  Prodicus  and 
Protagoras,  I  take  to  be  the  true  meaning  of  Simonides  in 
this  poem. 

Hippias  said  :  I  think,  Socrates,  that  you  have  given  a  very 
good  explanation  of  this  poem ;  but  I  have  also  an  excellent 
interpretation  of  my  own  which  I  will  expound  to  you,  if  you 
will  allow  me. 

Nay,  Hippias,  said  Alcibiades  ;  not  now,  but  another  time. 
At  present  we  must  abide  by  the  compact  which  was  made 
between  Socrates  and  Protagoras,  to  the  effect  that  as  long  as 
Protagoras  is  willing  to  ask,  Socrates  should  answer ;  or  that 
if  he  would  rather  answer,  then  that  Socrates  should  ask. 

I  said :  I  wish  Protagoras  either  to  ask  or  answer  as  he  is 
inclined  ;  but  I  would  rather  have  done  with  poems  and  odes, 
if  you  do  not  object,  and  come  back  to  the  question  about 
which  I  was  asking  you  at  first,  Protagoras,  and  by  your  help 
make  an  end  of  that.  The  talk  about  the  poets  seems  to  me 
like  a  commonplace  entertainment  to  which  a  vulgar  company 
have  recourse ;  who,  because  they  are  not  able  to  converse  or 
amuse  one  another,  while  they  are  drinking,  with  the  sound  of 
their  own  voices  and  conversation  by  reason  of  their  stupidity, 
raise  the  price  of  flute-girls  in  the  market,  hiring  for  a  great 
sum  the  voice  of  a  flute  instead  of  their  own  breath,  to  be  the 
medium  of  intercourse  among  them  :  but  where  the  company 
are  real  gentlemen  and  men  of  education,  you  will  see  no 
flute-girls,  nor  dancing-girls,  nor  harp-girls;  and  they  have 
no  nonsense  or  games,  but  are  contented  with  one  another's 
conversation,  of  which  their  own  voices  are  the  medium, 
and  which  they  carry  on  by  turns  and  in  an  orderly  manner, 
even  though  they  are  very  liberal  in  their  potations.  And  a 
company  like  this  of  ours,  and  men  such  as  we  profess  to  be, 
do  not  require  the  help  of  another's  voice,  or  of  the  poets 
whom  you  cannot  interrogate  about  the  meaning  of  what  they 
are  saying ;  people  who  cite  them  declaring,  some  that  the 


poet  has  one  meaning,  and  others  that  he  has  another,  and 
the  point  which  is  in  dispute  can  never  be  decided.  This 
sort  of  entertainment  they  decline,  and  prefer  to  talk  with  one 
another,  and  put  one  another  to  the  proof  in  conversation. 
348  And  these  are  the  models  which  I  desire  that  you  and  I 
should  imitate.  Leaving  the  poets,  and  keeping  to  ourselves, 
let  us  try  the  mettle  of  one  another  and  make  proof  of  the 
truth  in  conversation.  If  you  have  a  mind  to  ask  I  am  ready 
to  answer  ;  or  if  you  would  rather,  do  you  answer,  and  give 
me  the  opportunity  of  resuming  and  completing  our  unfinished 

I  made  these  and  other  similar  observations  ;  but  Prota 
goras  would  not  distinctly  say  which  he  would  do.  Thereupon 
Alcibiades  turned  to  Callias,  and  said  : — Do  you  think,  Callias, 
that  Protagoras  is  fair  in  refusing  to  say  whether  he  will  or 
will  not  answer?  for  I  certainly  think  that  he  is  unfair;  he 
ought  either  to  proceed  with  the  argument,  or  distinctly  to 
refuse  to  proceed,  that  we  may  know  his  intention  ;  and  then 
Socrates  will  be  able  to  discourse  with  some  one  else,  and  the 
rest  of  the  company  will  be  free  to  talk  with  one  another. 

1  think  that  Protagoras  was  really  made  ashamed  by  these 
words  of  Alcibiades,  and  when  the  prayers  of  Callias  and  the 
company  wrere  superadded,  he  was  at  last  induced  to  argue,  and 
said  that  I  might  ask  and  he  would  answer. 

So  I  said  :  Do  not  imagine,  Protagoras,  that  I  have  any  other 
interest  in  asking  questions  of  you  but  that  of  clearing  up  my 
own  difficulties.  For  I  think  that  Homer  was  very  right  in 
saying  that 

'When  two  go  together,  one  sees  before  the  other1/ 
for  all  men  who  have  a  companion  are  readier  in  deed,  word,  or 
thought ;  but  if  a  man 

'  Sees  a  thing  when  he  is  alone,' 

he  goes  about  straightway  seeking  until  he  finds  some  one  to 
whom  he  may  show  his  discoveries,  and  who  may  confirm  him 
in  them.  And  I  would  rather  hold  discourse  with  you  than 
with  any  one,  because  I  think  that  no  man  has  a  better  under 
standing  of  most  things  which  a  good  man  may  be  expected  to 

1   II.  x.  224. 
M  2 


understand,  and  in  particular  of  virtue.     For  who  is  there,  but 
you  ? — who  not  only  claim  to  be  a  good  man  and  a  gentleman, 
for   many  are   this,  and   yet   have    not   the   power  of  making 
others   good — whereas   you    are   not   only  good    yourself,   but 
also  the  cause  of  goodness  in  others.     Moreover  such  confidence 
have  you  in  yourself,  that  although  other  Sophists  conceal  their 
profession,  you  proclaim  in  the  face  of  Hellas  that  you  are  a 
Sophist  or  teacher  of  virtue  and   education,  and  are  the  first 
who  demanded  pay  in  return.     How  then  can  I  do  otherwise 
than  invite  you  to  the  examination  of  these  subjects,  and  ask  349' 
questions   and   take  advice  of  you?     Indeed,  I   must.     And  I 
should  like  once   more  to  have  my  memory  refreshed  by  you 
about  the  questions  which  I  was  asking  you  at  first,  and  also  to 
have  your  help  in  considering  them.     If  I  am  not  mistaken  the 
question  was  this  :   Are  wisdom   and  temperance  and   courage 
and  justice  and  holiness  five   names  of  the  same  thing?  or  has 
each  of  the  names   a   separate   underlying  essence  and   corre 
sponding  thing  having  a  proper  function,  no  one  of  them  being 
like  any  other  of  them  ?     And  you  replied  that  the  five  names 
were  not  the  names  of  the  same  thing,  but  that  each  of  them  had 
a  separate  object,  and  that  all  these  objects  were  parts  of  virtue, 
not  in  the  same  way  that  the  parts  of  gold  are  like  each  other 
and  the  whole  of  which  they  are  parts,  but  as  the  parts  of  the 
face  are  unlike  the  whole  of  which  they  are  parts  and  one  an 
other,  and  have  each  of  them  a  distinct  function.     I  should  like 
to  know  whether  this  is  still  your  opinion  ;  or  if  not,  I  will  ask 
you  to  define  your  meaning,  and  I  shall  not  take  you  to  task 
if  you  now  make  a  different  statement.      For  I  dare  say  that 
you  may  have  said  what   you  did  only  in  order  to  make  trial 
of  me. 

I  answer,  Socrates,  he  said,  that  all  these  qualities  are  parts 
of  virtue,  and  that  four  out  of  the  five  are  to  some  extent  simi 
lar,  and  that  the  fifth  of  them,  which  is  courage,  is  very  different 
from  the  other  four,  as  I  prove  in  this  way :  You  may  observe 
that  many  men  are  utterly  unrighteous,  unholy,  intemperate, 
ignorant,  who  are  nevertheless  remarkable  for  their  courage. 

Stop,  I  said  ;  that  requires  consideration.  When  you  speak 
of  brave  men,  do  you  mean  the  confident,  or  another  sort  of 
nature  ? 


Yes,  he  said ;  I  mean  the  impetuous,  ready  to  go  at  that 
which  others  are  afraid  to  approach. 

In  the  next  place,  you  would  affirm  virtue  to  be  a  good  thing, 
of  which  good  thing  you  assert  yourself  to  be  a  teacher. 

Yes,  he  said  ;  I  should  say  the  best  of  all  things,  if  I  am  in 
my  right  mind. 

And  is  it  partly  good  and  partly  bad,  I  said,  or  wholly  good  ? 

Wholly  good,  and  that  in  the  highest  degree. 

350      Tell  me  then  ;  who  are  they  who  have  confidence  when  diving 
into  a  well  ? 

I  should  say,  the  divers. 

And  the  reason  of  this  is  that  they  have  knowledge  ? 

Yes,  that  is  the  reason. 

And  who  have  confidence  when  fighting  on  horseback — the 
skilled  horseman  or  the  unskilled  ? 

The  skilled. 

And  who  when  fighting  with  light  shields — the  peltasts  or  the 
nonpeltasts  ? 

The  peltasts.  And  that  is  true  of  all  other  things,  he  said, 
if  that  is  your  point :  those  who  have  knowledge  are  more  con 
fident  than  those  who  have  no  knowledge,  and  they  are  more 
confident  after  they  have  learned  than  before. 

And  have  you  not  seen  persons  utterly  ignorant,  I  said,  of 
these  things,  and  yet  confident  about  them  ? 

Yes,  he  said,  I  have  seen  persons  very  confident. 

And  are  not  these  confident  persons  also  courageous? 

In  that  case,  he  replied,  courage  would  be  a  base  thing,  for 
the  men  of  whom  we  are  speaking  are  surely  madmen. 

Then  who  are  the  courageous  ?     Are  they  not  the  confident  ? 

Yes,  he  said  ;  and  I  still  maintain  that. 

And  those,  I  said,  who  are  thus  confident  without  knowledge 
are  really  not  courageous,  but  mad  ;  and  in  that  case  the  wisest 
are  also  the  most  confident,  and  being  the  most  confident  are  also 
the  bravest,  and  upon  that  view  again  wisdom  will  be  courage. 

Nay,  Socrates,  he  replied,  you  are  mistaken  in  your  remem 
brance  of  what  was  said  by  me.  When  you  asked  me,  I  cer 
tainly  did  say  that  the  courageous  are  the  confident ;  but  I  was 
not  asked  whether  the  confident  are  the  courageous  ;  for  if  you 
had  asked  me  that,  I  should  have  answered  '  not  all  of  them :' 


and  what  I  did  answer  you  have  not  disproved,  although  you 
proceed    to   show    that   those   who   have    knowledge   are    more 
courageous  than  they  were  before  they  had  knowledge,  and  more 
courageous  than  others  who  have  no  knowledge  ;  and  this  makes 
you  think  that  courage  is  the   same  as  wisdom.     But  in  this 
way  of  arguing  you   might  curhe  to  imagine  that  strength  is 
wisdom.     You   might  begin  by  asking  whether  the  strong  are 
able,  and  I  should  say  'Yes;'  and  then  whether  those  who  know 
how  to  wrestle  are  not  more  able  to  wrestle  than  those  who  do 
not  know  how  to  wrestle,  and  more  able  after  than  before  they 
had  learned,  and  I  should  assent.     And  when  I  had  admitted 
this,  you  might  use  my  admissions  in   such  a  way  as  to  prove 
that  upon  my  view  wisdom  is  strength  ;  whereas  in  that  case  I 
should  not  have  admitted,  any  more  than  in  the  other,  that  the 
able  are  strong,  although  I  have  admitted  that  the  strong  are  \/ 
able.     For  there  is  a  difference  between   ability  and   strength  ;  351 
the   former  is   given  by  knowledge  as  well  as  by  madness  or 
rage,  but  strength  comes  from  nature  and  a  healthy  state  of  the 
body.     And  in  like   manner  I  say  of  confidence  and  courage, 
that  they  are  not  the  same  ;    and  I  argue  that  the   courageous 
are  confident,  but  not  all  the  confident  courageous.     For  con 
fidence  may  be  given  to  men  by  art,  and  also,  like  ability,  by 
madness  and  rage  ;  but  courage  comes  to  them  from  nature  and 
the  healthy  state  of  the  soul. 

I  said  :  You  would  admit,  Protagoras,  that  some  men  live  well 
and  others  ill  ? 

He  agreed  to  this. 

And  do  you  think  that  a  man  lives  well  who  lives  in  pain 
and  grief? 

He  does  not. 

But  if  he  lives  pleasantly  to  the  end  of  his  life,  do  you  not 
think  that  in  that  case  he  will  have  lived  well  ? 

I  do. 

Then  to  live  pleasantly  is  a  good,  and  to  live  unpleasantly 
an  evil? 

Yes,  he  said,  if  the  pleasure  be  good  and  honourable. 

And  do  you,  Protagoras,  like  the  rest  of  the  world,  call  some 
pleasant  things  evil  and  some  painful  things  good? — for  I  am 
rather  disposed  to  say  that  things  are  good  in  as  far  as  they  are 


pleasant,  if  they  have  no  consequences  of  another  sort,  and   in 
as  far  as  they  are  painful  they  are  bad. 

I  do  not  know,  Socrates,  he  said,  whether  I  can  venture  to 
assert  in  that  unqualified  manner  that  the  pleasant  is  the  good 
and  the  painful  the  evil.  Having  regard  not  only  to  my  present 
answer,  but  also  to  the  rest  of  u^  life,  I  shall  be  safer,  if  I  am 
not  mistaken,  in  saying  that  there  are  some  pleasant  things 
which  are  not  good,  and  that  there  arc  some  painful  things 
which  are  good,  and  some  which  are  not  good,  and  that  there 
are  some  which  are  neither  good  nor  evil. 

And  you  would  call  pleasant,  I  said,  the  things  which  partici 
pate  in  pleasure  or  create  pleasure  ? 

Certainly,  he  said. 

Then  my  meaning  is,  that  in  as  far  as  they  are  pleasant  they 
are  good  ;  and  my  question  would  imply  that  pleasure  is  a  good 
in  itself. 

According  to  your  favourite  mode  of  speech,  Socrates,  let  us 
enquire  about  this,  he  said;  and  if  the  enquiry  is  relevant, 
and  the  result  proves  that  pleasure  and  good  are  really  the 
same,  then  we  will  agree  ;  but  if  not,  then  we  will  argue. 

And  would  you  wish  to  begin  the  enquiry  ?  I  said  ;  or  shall 
I  begin? 

You  ought  to  take  the  lead,  he  said  ;  for  you  are  the  author 
of  the  discussion. 

352  May  I  use  this  as  an  illustration  ?  I  said.  Suppose  some  one 
who  is  enquiring  into  the  health  or  some  other  bodily  quality 
of  another :— he  looks  at  his  face  and  at  the  tips  of  his  fingers, 
and  then  he  says,  Uncover  your  chest  and  back  to  me  that  I  may 
have  a  better  view :— that  is  the  sort  of  thing  which  I  desire 
in  this  speculation.  Having  seen  what  your  opinion  is  about 
good  and  pleasure,  I  am  minded  to  say  to  you  :  Uncover  your 
mind  to  me,  Protagoras,  and  reveal  your  opinion  about  knowledge, 
that  I  may  know  whether  you  agree  with  the  rest  of  the  world. 
Now  the  rest  of  the  world  are  of  opinion  that  knowledge  is  a 
principle  not  of  strength,  or  of  rule,  or  of  command  :  their 
notion  is  that  a  man  may  have  knowledge,  and  yet  that  the 
knowledge  which  is  in  him  may  be  overmastered  by  anger,  or 
pleasure,  or  pain,  or  love,  or  perhaps  by  fear—  just  as  if  know 
ledge  were  a  slave,  and  might  be  dragged  about  anyhow.  Now 


is  that  your  view?  or  do  you  think  that  knowledge  is  a  noble 
and  commanding  thing,  which  cannot  be  overcome,  and  will 
not  allow  a  man,  if  he  only  knows  the  difference  of  good  and 
evil,  to  do  anything  which  is  contrary  to  knowledge,  but  that 
wisdom  will  have  strength  to  help  him  ? 

I  agree  with  you,  Socrates,  said  Protagoras ;  and  not  only 
that,  but  I,  above  all  other  men,  am  bound  to  say  that  wisdom 
and  knowledge  are  the  highest  of  human  things. 

Good,  I  said,  and  true.  But  are  you  aware  that  the  majority 
of  the  world  are  of  another  mind  ;  and  that  men  are  commonly 
supposed  to  know  the  things  which  are  best,  and  not  to  do  them 
when  they  might  ?  And  most  persons  whom  I  have  asked  the 
reason  of  this  have  said  that  those  who  act  contrary  to  know 
ledge  were  overcome  by  pain,  or  pleasure,  or  some  of  those 
affections  which  I  was  just  now  mentioning. 

Yes,  Socrates,  he  replied  ;  and  that  is  not  the  only  point 
about  which  mankind  are  in  error. 

Suppose,  then,  that  you  and  I  endeavour  to  instruct  and 
inform  them  what  is  the  nature  of  this  affection,  which  is  called 
by  them  being  overcome  by  pleasure,  and  which,  as  they  declare,  353 
is  the  reason  why  they  know  the  better  and  choose  the  worse. 
When  we  say  to  them :  Friends,  you  are  mistaken,  and  are 
saying  what  is  not  true,  they  would  probably  reply  :  Socrates 
and  Protagoras,  if  this  affection  of  the  soul  is  not  to  be  described 
as  being  overcome  by  pleasure,  what  is  it,  and  how  do  you  call 
it  ?  Tell  us  that. 

But  why,  Socrates,  should  we  trouble  ourselves  about  the 
opinion  of  the  many,  who  just  say  anything  that  happens  to 
occur  to  them  ? 

I  think,  I  replied,  that  their  opinion  may  help  us  to  discover 
how  courage  is  related  to  the  other  parts  of  virtue.  If  you  are 
disposed  to  abide  by  our  recent  agreement,  that  I  should  lead 
in  the  way  in  which  I  think  that  we  shall  find  the  truth  best, 
do  you  follow ;  but  if  you  are  disinclined,  never  mind. 

You  are  quite  right,  he  said  ;  and  I  would  have  you  proceed 
as  you  have  begun. 

Well  then,  I  said,  let  me  suppose  that  they  repeat  their 
question,  What  account  do  you  give  of  that  which,  in  our 
language,  is  termed  being  overcome  by  pleasure?  I  should 


answer  them  thus  :  Listen,  and  Protagoras  and  I  will  endeavour 
to  show  you.  When  men  are  overcome  by  eating  and  drinking 
and  other  sensual  desires  which  are  pleasant,  and  they,  know 
ing  them  to  be  evil,  nevertheless  indulge  in  them,  would  you 
not  say  that  they  were  overcome  by  pleasure  ?  They  will  not 
deny  this.  And  suppose  that  you  and  I  were  to  go  on  and  ask 
them  again  :  In  what  way  do  you  say  that  they  are  evil, — in 
that  they  are  pleasant  and  give  pleasure  at  the  moment,  or 
because  they  cause  disease  and  poverty  and  other  like  evils  in 
the  future  ?  Would  they  still  be  evil,  if  they  had  no  attendant 
evil  consequences,  simply  because  they  give  the  consciousness 
of  pleasure  of  whatever  nature?  Would  they  not  answer  that 
they  are  not  evil  on  account  of  the  pleasure  which  is  imme 
diately  given  by  them,  but  on  account  of  the  after  consequences 
— diseases  and  the  like? 

I  believe,  said  Protagoras,  that  the  world  in  general  would 
give  that  answer. 

And  in  causing  diseases  do  they  not  cause  pain  ?  and  in 
causing  poverty  do  they  not  cause  pain  ; — they  would  agree  to 
that  also,  if  I  am  not  mistaken  ? 

Protagoras  assented. 

Then  I  should  say  to  them,  in  my  name  and  yours  :  Do  you 
think  them  evil  for  any  other  reason,  except  that  they  end  in 
pain   and   rob   us   of   other  pleasures : — that  again  they  would 
354      We  both  of  us  thought  that  they  would. 

And  then  I  should  take  the  question  from  the  opposite  point 
of  view,  and  say :  Friends,  when  you  speak  of  goods  being 
painful,  do  you  not  mean  remedial  goods,  such  as  gymnastic 
exercises,  and  military  service,  and  the  physician's  use  of  burn 
ing,  cutting,  drugging,  and  starving  ?  Are  these  the  things 
which  are  good  but  painful  ? — they  would  assent  to  that  ? 

He  agreed. 

And  do  you  call  them  good  because  they  occasion  the  great 
est  immediate  suffering  and  pain  ;  or  because,  afterwards,  they 
bring  health  and  improvement  of  the  bodily  condition  and  the 
salvation  of  states  and  empires  and  wealth  ? — they  would  agree 
to  that,  if  I  am  not  mistaken  ? 

He  assented. 


Are  these  things  good  for  any  other  reason  except  that  they 
end  in  pleasure,  and  get  rid  of  and  avert  pain  ?  Are  you  look 
ing  to  any  other  standard  but  pleasure  and  pain  when  you  call 
them  good  ? — they  would  acknowledge  that  they  were  not  ? 

I  think  that  they  would,  said  Protagoras. 

And  do  you  not  pursue  after  pleasure  as  a  good,  and  avoid 
pain  as  an  evil  ? 

He  assented. 

Then  you  think  that  pain  is  an  evil  and  pleasure  is  a  good  : 
and  even  pleasure  you  deem  an  evil,  when  it  robs  you  of  greater 
pleasures  than  it  gives,  or  causes  pains  greater  than  the  pleasure. 
If,  however,  you  call  pleasure  an  evil  in  relation  to  some  other 
end  or  standard,  you  will  be  able  to  show  us  that  standard. 
But  you  have  none  to  show. 

I  do  not  think  that  they  have,  said  Protagoras. 

And  have  you  not  a  similar  way  of  speaking  about  pain  ? 
You  call  pain  a  good  when  it  takes  away  greater  pains  than 
those  which  it  has,  or  gives  pleasures  greater  than  the  pains  : 
for  I  say  that  if  you  have  some  standard  other  than  pleasure 
and  pain  to  which  you  refer  when  you  call  actual  pain  a  good, 
you  can  show  what  that  is.  But  you  cannot. 

That  is  true,  said  Protagoras. 

Suppose  again,  I  said,  that  the  world  says  to  me :  Why  do 
you  spend  many  words  and  speak  in  many  ways  on  this  sub 
ject?  Excuse  me,  friends,-  I  should  reply;  but  in  the  first 
place  there  is  a  difficulty  in  explaining  the  meaning  of  the  expres 
sion  '  overcome  by  pleasure  ; '  and  the  whole  argument  turns 
upon  this.  And  even  now,  if  you  see  any  possible  way  in  which 
evil  can  be  explained  as  other  than  pain,  or  good  as  other  than  355 
pleasure,  you  may  still  retract.  Are  you  satisfied,  then,  at 
having  a  life  of  pleasure  which  is  without  pain  ?  If  you  are, 
and  if  you  are  unable  to  show  any  good  or  evil  which  does  not 
end  in  pleasure  and  pain,  hear  the  consequences : — If  this  be 
true,  then  I  say  that  the  argument  is  absurd  which  affirms  that  a 
man  often  does  evil  knowingly,  when  he  might  abstain,  because 
he  is  seduced  and  amazed  by  pleasure ;  or  again,  when  you  say 
that  a  man  knowingly  refuses  to  do  what  is  good  because  he 
is  overcome  at  the  moment  by  pleasure.  And  that  this  is 
ridiculous  will  be  evident  if  only  we  give  up  the  use  of  various 

PRO  TA  GORA  S/  iyi 

names,  such  as  pleasant  and  painful,  and  good  and  evil.  As 
there  are  two  things,  let  us  call  them  by  two  names — first,  good 
and  evil,  and  then  pleasant  and  painful.  Assuming  this,  let  us 
go  on  to  say  that  a  man  does  evil  knowing  that  he  does  evil. 
But  some  one  will  ask,  Why  ?  Because  he  is  overcome,  is  the 
first  answer.  And  by  what  is  he  overcome  ?  the  enquirer  will 
proceed  to  ask.  And  we  shall  not  be  able  to  reply  '  By  pleasure,' 
for  the  name  of  pleasure  has  been  exchanged  for  that  of  good. 
In  our  answer,  then,  we  shall  only  say  that  he  is  overcome. 
'  By  what  ? '  he  will  reiterate.  By  the  good,  we  shall  have  to 
reply  ;  indeed  we  shall.  Nay,  but  our  questioner  will  rejoin 
with  a  laugh,  if  he  be  one  of  the  swaggering  sort,  That  is  too 
ridiculous,  that  a  man  should  do  what  he  knows  to  be  evil 
when  he  ought  not,  because  he  is  overcome  by  good.  Is  that, 
he  will  ask,  because  the  good  was  worthy  or  not  worthy  of 
conquering  the  evil  ?  And  in  answer  to  that  we  shall  clearly 
reply,  Because  it  was  not  worthy ;  for  if  it  had  been  worthy, 
then  he  who,  as  we  say,  was  overcome  by  pleasure,  would  not 
have  been  wrong.  But  how,  he  will  reply,  can  the  good  be 
unworthy  of  the  evil,  or  the  evil  of  the  good  ?  Is  not  the  real 
explanation  that  they  are  out  of  proportion  to  one  another, 
either  as  greater  and  smaller,  or  more  and  fewer  ?  This  we  can 
not  deny.  And  when  you  speak  of  being  overcome — what  do 
you  mean,  he  will  say,  but  that  you  choose  the  greater  evil  in 
exchange  for  the  lesser  good  ?  That  is  true.  And  now  substi 
tute  the  names  of  pleasure  and  pain  for  good  and  evil,  and  say, 
not  as  before,  that  a  man  does  what  is  evil  knowingly,  but  that 
he  does  what  is  painful  knowingly,  and  because  he  is  overcome 
356  by  pleasure,  which  is  unworthy  to  overcome.  What  measure 
is  there  of  the  relations  of  pleasure  to  pain  other  than  excess 
and  defect,  which  means  that  they  become  greater  and  smaller, 
and  more  and  fewer,  and  differ  in  degree?  For  if  any  one 
says  :  *  Yes,  Socrates,  but  immediate  pleasure  differs  widely 
from  future  pleasure  and  pain' — To  that  I  should  reply:  And 
do  they  differ  in  anything  but  in  pleasure  and  pain?  There 
can  be  no  other  measure  of  them.  And  do  you,  like  a  skilful 
weigher,  put  into  the  balance  the  pleasures  and  the  pains,  and 
their  nearness  and  distance,  and  weigh  them,  and  then  say  which 
outweighs  the  other.  If  you  weigh  pleasures  against  pleasures, 


you  of  course  take  the  more  and  greater  ;  or  if  you  weigh 
pains  against  pains,  you  take  the  fewer  and  the  less  ;  or  if 
pleasures  against  pains,  then  you  choose  that  course  of  action 
in  which  the  painful  is  exceeded  by  the  pleasant,  whether  the 
distant  by  the  near  or  the  near  by  the  distant  ;  and  you  avoid 
that  course  of  action  in  which  the  pleasant  is  exceeded  by  the 
painful.  Would  you  not  admit,  my  friends,  that  this  is  true? 
I  am  confident  that  they  cannot  deny  this. 

He  agreed  with  me. 

Well  then,  I  shall  say,  if  you  admit  that,  be  so  good  as  to 
answer  me  a  question  :  Do  not  the  same  magnitudes  appear 
larger  to  your  sight  when  near,  and  smaller  when  at  a  distance  ? 
They  will  acknowledge  that.  And  the  same  holds  of  thickness 
and  number ;  also  sounds,  which  are  in  themselves  equal,  are 
greater  when  near,  and  lesser  when  at  a  distance.  They  will 
grant  that  also.  Now  supposing  that  happiness  consisted  in 
doing  or  choosing  the  greater,  and  in  not  doing  or  avoiding  the 
less,  what  would  be  the  saving  principle  of  human  life  ?  Would 
the  art  of  measuring  be  the  saving  principle,  or  would  the  power 
of  appearance  ?  Is  not  the  latter  that  deceiving  art  which  makes 
us  wander  up  and  down  and  take  the  things  at  one  time  of 
which  we  repent  at  another,  both  in  our  actions  and  in  our 
choice  of  things  great  and  small  ?  But  the  art  of  measurement 
is  that  which  would  do  away  with  the  effect  of  appearances, 
and,  showing  the  truth,  would  fain  teach  the  soul  at  last  to  find 
rest  in  the  truth,  and  would  thus  save  our  life.  Would  not  man 
kind  generally  acknowledge  that  the  art  which  accomplishes 
this  is  the  art  of  measurement  ? 

Yes,  he  said,  the  art  of  measurement. 

Suppose,  again,  the  salvation  of  human  life  to  depend  on  the 
choice  of  odd  and  even,  and  on  the  knowledge  of  when  a  man 
ought  to  choose  the  greater  or  less,  either  in  reference  to  them 
selves  or  to  each  other  whether  near  or  at  a  distance  ;  what  357 
would  be  the  saving  principle  of  our  lives?  Woul<d  not  know 
ledge? — a  knowledge  of  measuring,  when  the  question  is  one 
of  excess  and  defect,  and  a  knowledge  of  number,  when  the 
question  is  of  odd  and  even  ?  The  world  will  acknowledge  that, 
will  they  not  ? 

Protagoras  himself  thought  that  they  would. 


Well  then,  my  friends,  I  say  to  them  ;  seeing  that  the  salva 
tion  of  human  life  has  been  found  to  consist  in  the  right  choice 
of  pleasures  and  pains, — in  the  choice  of  the  more  and  the 
fewer,  and  the  greater  and  the  less,  and  the  nearer  and  remoter, 
must  not  this  measuring  be  a  consideration  of  their  excess  and 
defect  and  equality  in  relation  to  each  other  ? 

That  is  undeniably  true. 

And  this,  as  possessing  measure,  must  undeniably  also  be  an 
art  and  science? 

They  will  agree  to  that. 

The  nature  of  that  art  or  science  will  be  a  matter  of  future 
consideration  ;  the  demonstration  of  the  existence  of  such  a 
science  is  a  sufficient  answer  to  the  question  which  you  asked 
of  me  and  Protagoras.  At  the  time  when  you  asked  the  ques 
tion,  if  you  remember,  both  of  us  were  agreeing  that  there  was 
nothing  mightier  than  knowledge,  and  that  knowledge,  in  what 
ever  existing,  must  have  the  advantage  over  pleasure  and  all 
other  things  ;  and  then  you  said  that  pleasure  often  got  the 
advantage  even  over  a  man  who  has  knowledge  ;  and  we  refused 
to  allow  this,  and  you  rejoined  :  O  Protagoras  and  Socrates, 
what  is  the  meaning  of  being  overcome  by  pleasure  if  not  this  ? 
—tell  us  what  you  call  such  a  state  : — if  we  had  immediately 
and  at  the  time  answered  '  Ignorance,'  you  would  have  laughed 
at  us.  But  now,  in  laughing  at  us,  you  will  be  laughing  at  your 
selves  :  for  you  also  admitted  that  men  err  in  their  choice  of 
pleasures  and  pains  ;  that  is,  in  their  choice  of  good  and  evil, 
from  defect  of  knowledge  ;  and  you  admitted  further,  that  they 
err,  not  only  from  defect  of  knowledge  in  general,  but  of  that 
particular  knowledge  which  is  called  measuring.  And  you  are 
also  aware  that  the  erring  act  which  is  done  without  knowledge 
is  done  in  ignorance.  This,  therefore,  is  the  meaning  of  being 
overcome  by  pleasure  ; — ignorance,  and  that  the  greatest.  And 
our  friends  Protagoras  and  Prodicus  and  Hippias  declare  that 
they  are  the  physicians  of  ignorance  ;  but  you,  who  are  under 
the  mistaken  impression  that  ignorance  is  not  the  cause,  and 
that  the  art  of  which  I  am  speaking  cannot  be  taught,  neither 
go  yourselves,  nor  send  your  children,  to  the  Sophists,  who  are 
the  teachers  of  these  things — you  take  care  of  your  money  and 
give  them  none ;  and  the  result  is,  that  you  are  the  worse  off 


both  in  public  and  private  life : — Let  us  suppose  this  to  be  our 
answer  to  the  world  in  general.     But  I  would  like  now  to  ask  358 
you,  Hippias,  and  you,  Prodicus,  as  well  as  Protagoras  (for  the 
argument  is  to  be  yours  as  well  as  ours),  whether  you  think  that 
I  am  speaking  the  truth  or  not? 

They  all  thought  that  what  I  said  was  entirely  true. 
Then  you  agree,  I  said,  that  the  pleasant  is  the  good,  and  the 
painful  evil.  And  here  I  would  beg  my  friend  Prodicus  not  to 
introduce  his  distinction  of  names,  whether  he  is  disposed  to  say 
pleasurable,  delightful,  joyful.  However  and  in  whatever  way 
he  rejoices  to  name  them,  I  will  ask  you,  most  excellent  Prodicus, 
to  answer  in  my  sense  of  the  words. 

Prodicus  laughed  and  assented,  as  did  the  others. 
Then,   my  friends,  what  do  you   say  to  this  ?      Are  not  all 
actions,  the  tendency  of  which   is   to    make  life   painless   and 
pleasant,  honourable  and  useful  ?     The  honourable  work  is  also 
useful  and  good  ? 
This  was  admitted. 

Then,  I  said,  if  the  pleasant  is  the  good,  nobody  does  any 
thing  under  the  idea  or  conviction  that  some  other  thing  would 
be  better  and  is  also  attainable,  when  he  might  do  the  better. 
And  this  inferiority  of  a  man  to  himself  is  merely  ignorance,  as 
the  superiority  of  a  man  to  himself  is  wisdom. 
They  all  assented. 

And  is  not  ignorance  the  having  a  false  opinion  and  being 
deceived  about  important  matters  ? 

To  that  they  also  unanimously  assented. 

Then,  I  said,  no  man  voluntarily  pursues  evil,  or  that  which 
he  thinks  to  be  evil.  To  prefer  evil  to  good  is  not  in  human 
nature ;  and  when  a  man  is  compelled  to  choose  one  of  two 
evils,  no  one  will  choose  the  greater  when  he  might  have  the 

All  of  us  agreed  to  every  word  of  this. 

Well,  I  said,  there  is  a  certain  thing  called  fear  or  terror ;  and 
here,  Prodicus,  I  should  particularly  like  to  know  whether  you 
would  agree  with  me  in  denning  this  fear  or  terror  as  expecta 
tion  of  evil. 

Protagoras  and  Hippias  agreed,  but  Prodicus  said  that  this 
was  fear  and  not  terror. 



Never  mind  about  that,  Prodicus,  I  said  ;  but  let  me  ask 
whether,  if  our  former  assertions  are  true,  a  man  will  pursue 
that  which  he  fears  when  he  need  not  ?  Would  not  this  be  in 
contradiction  to  the  admission  which  has  been  already  made, 
that  he  thinks  the  things  which  he  fears  to  be  evil ;  and  no  one 
will  pursue  or  voluntarily  accept  that  which  he  thinks  to  be 
evil  ? 
359  That  also  was  universally  admitted. 

Then,  I  said,  these,  Hippias  and  Prodicus,  are  our  premisses  ; 
and  I  would  beg  Protagoras  to  explain  to  us  how  he  can  be  right 
in  what  he  said  at  first.  I  do  not  mean  in  what  he  said  quite 
at  first,  for  his  first  statement,  as  you  may  remember,  was  that 
whereas  there  were  five  parts  of  virtue  none  of  them  was  like 
any  other  of  them  ;  each  of  them  had  a  separate  function.  To 
this,  however,  I  am  not  referring,  but  to  the  assertion  which  he 
afterwards  made  that  of  the  five  virtues  four  were  nearly  akin 
to  each  other,  but  that  the  fifth,  which  was  courage,  differed 
greatly  from  the  others.  And  of  this  he  gave  me  the  following 
proof.  He  said  :  You  will  find,  Socrates,  that  some  of  the  most 
impious,  and  unrighteous,  and  intemperate,  and  ignorant  of  men 
are  among  the  most  courageous ;  which  proves  that  courage  is 
very  different  from  the  other  parts  of  virtue.  I  was  surprised 
at  his  saying  this  at  the  time,  and  I  am  still  more  surprised  now 
that  I  have  discussed  the  matter  with  you.  So  I  asked  him 
whether  by  the  brave  he  meant  the  confident.  Yes,  he  replied, 
and  the  impetuous  or  goers.  (You  may  remember,  Protagoras, 
that  this  was  your  answer.) 

He  assented. 

Well  then,  I  said,  tell  us  against  what  are  the  courageous 
ready  to  go — against  the  same  as  the  cowards  ? 

No,  he  answered. 

Then  against  something  different? 

Yes,  he  said. 

Then  do  cowards  go  where  there  is  safety,  and  the  courageous 
where  there  is  danger? 

Yes,  Socrates,  t\iat  is  what  men  say. 

That  is  true,  I  said.  But  I  want  to  know  against  what  the 
courageous  are  ready  to  go — against  dangers,  believing  them  to 
be  dangers,  or  not  against  dangers? 


No,  said  he ;  that  has  been  proved  by  you  in  the  previous 
argument  to  be  impossible. 

That,  again,  I  replied,  is  quite  true.  And  if  this  has  been 
rightly  proven,  then  no  one  goes  to  meet  what  he  thinks  to  be 
dangers,  since  the  want  of  self-control,  which  makes  men  rush 
into  dangers,  has  been  shown  to  be  ignorance. 

He  assented. 

And  yet  the  courageous  man  and  the  coward  alike  go  to 
meet  that  about  which  they  are  confident ;  so  that,  in  this  point 
of  view,  the  cowardly  and  the  courageous  go  to  meet  the  same 

And  yet,  Socrates,  said  Protagoras,  that  to  which  the  coward 
goes  is  the  opposite  of  that  to  which  the  courageous  goes ;  the 
one,  for  example,  is  ready  to  go  to  battle,  and  the  other  is  not 

And  is  going  to  battle  honourable  or  disgraceful?  I  said. 

Honourable,  he  replied. 

And  if  honourable,  then  already  admitted  by  us  to  be  good  ; 
for  all  honourable  actions  we  have  admitted  to  be  good. 

That  is  true  ;  and  to  that  opinion  I  shall  always  adhere. 

True,  I   said.     But  which  of  the  two  are  they  who,  as  you  360 
say,  are  unwilling  to  go  to  war,  which  is  a  good  and  honour 
able  thing? 

The  cowards,  he  replied. 

And  yet,  I  said,  that  which  is  good  and  honourable  is  also 
pleasant  ? 

That,  he  said,  was  certainly  admitted. 

And  do  the  cowards  knowingly  refuse  to  go  to  the  nobler, 
and  pleasanter,  and  better? 

The  admission  of  that,  he  replied,  would  belie  our  former 

But  does  not  the  courageous  man  also  go  to  meet  the  better, 
and  pleasanter,  and  nobler? 

That  must  be  admitted. 

And  the  courageous  man  has  no  base  fear  or  base  confidence  ? 

True,  he  replied. 

And  if  not  base,  then  honourable  ? 

He  admitted  this. 

And  if  honourable,  then  good  ? 




But  the  fear  and  confidence  of  the  coward  or  foolhardy  or 
madman,  on  the  contrary,  are  base? 

He  assented. 

And  these  base  fears  and  confidences  originate  in  ignorance 
and  uninstructedness  ? 

True,  he  said. 

Then  as  to  the  motive  from  which  the  cowards  act,  do  you 
call  that  cowardice  or  courage  ? 

I  should  say  cowardice,  he  replied. 

And  have  they  not  been  shown  to  be  cowards  through  their 
ignorance  of  dangers  ? 

Assuredly,  he  said. 

And  because  of  that  ignorance  they  are  cowards  ? 

He  assented. 

And  the  reason  why  they  are  cowards  is  admitted  by  you  to 
be  cowardice? 

He  assented. 

Then  the  ignorance  of  what  is  and  is  not  dangerous  is 
cowardice  ? 

He  nodded  assent. 

But  surely  courage,  I  said,  is  opposed  to  cowardice? 


Then  the  wisdom  which  knows  what  are  and  are  not  dangers 
is  opposed  to  the  ignorance  of  them  ? 

To  that  again  he  nodded  assent. 

And  the  ignorance  of  them  is  cowardice  ? 

To  that  he  very  reluctantly  nodded  assent. 

And  the  knowledge  of  that  which  is  and  is  not  dangerous  is 
courage,  and  is  opposed  to  the  ignorance  of  these  things  ? 

At  this  point  he  would  no  longer  nod  assent,  but  was  silent. 

And  why,  I  said,  do  you  neither  assent  nor  dissent,  Prota 
goras  ? 

Finish  the  argument  by  yourself,  he  said. 

I  only  want  to  ask  one  more  question,  I  said.  I  want  to 
know  whether  you  still  think  that  there  are  men  who  are  most 
ignorant  and  yet  most  courageous? 

You  seem  to  have  a  great  ambition  to  make  me  answer, 
Socrates,  and  therefore  I  will  gratify  you,  and  say,  that  this 

VOL.  I.  N 


appears    to    me    to    be    impossible    consistently    with    the    ar 

My  only  object,  I  said,  in  continuing  the  discussion,  has  been 
the  desire  to  ascertain  the  relations  of  virtue  and  the  essential 
nature  of  virtue;  for  if  this  were  clear,  I  am  very  sure  that  the  361 
other  controversy  which  has  been  carried  on  at  great  length  by 
both  of  us— you   affirming  and   I   denying  that  virtue  can  be 
taught— would  also  become  clear.     The  result  of  our  discussion 
appears  to    me   to   be   singular.     For  if  the   argument   had    a 
human  voice,  that  voice  would   be   heard  laughing  at  us   and 
saying  :  Protagoras  and  Socrates,  you  are  strange  beings  ;  there 
are  you,  Socrates,  who  were  saying  that  virtue  cannot  be  taught, 
contradicting  yourself  now  by  your  attempt  to  prove  that  all 
things    are   knowledge,   including  justice,   and    temperance,  and 
courage,— which    tends    to    show    that    virtue    can    certainly  be 
taught ;  for  if  virtue  were  other  than  knowledge,  as  Protagoras 
attempted  to  prove,  then  clearly  virtue  cannot  be  taught ;  but 
if  virtue    is    entirely  knowledge,  as   you   are    seeking    to    show, 
then    I    cannot   but   suppose    that   virtue   is    capable    of   being 
taught.     Protagoras,  on  the  other  hand,  who  started  by  saying 
that  it  might  be  taught,  is  now  eager  to  show  that  it  is  any 
thing  rather  than   knowledge;    and   if  this   is  true,  it  must  be 
quite  incapable  of  being  taught.     Now  I,  Protagoras,  perceiving 
this  terrible   confusion   of  our  ideas,  have   a  great   desire  that 
they  should  be  cleared  up.     And  I  should  like  to  carry  on  the 
discussion  until  we  ascertain  what  virtue  is,  and  whether  capable 
of  being  taught  or  not,  lest  haply  Epimetheus  should   trip   us 
up    and    deceive   us   in   the   argument,  as   he   forgot   us   in   the 
story;    I   prefer  your   Prometheus    to   your   Epimetheus,  for  of 
him  I  make  use,  whenever  I  am  busy  about  these  questions,  in 
Promethean  care  of  my  own  life.     And  if  you  have  no  objec 
tion,  as  I  said  at  first,  I  should  like  to  have  your  help  in  the 

Protagoras  replied  :  Socrates,  I  am  not  of  a  base  nature,  and 
I  am  the  last  man  in  the  world  to  be  envious.  I  cannot  but 
applaud  your  energy  and  your  conduct  of  an  argument.  As 
I  have  often  said,  I  admire  you  above  all  men  whom  I  know, 
and  far  above  all  men  of  your  age ;  and  I  believe  that  you  will 
become  very  eminent  in  philosophy.  Let  us  come  back  to  the 

PROTA  CORA  S.  1 79 

subject  at  some  future  time  ;    at  present  we  had  better  turn  to 
something  else. 

By  all  means,  I  said,  if  that  is  your  wish  ;  for  I  too  ought 
long  since  to  have  kept  the  engagement  of  which  I  spoke 
before,  and  only  tarried  because  I  could  not  refuse  the  request 
of  the  noble  Callias.  So  the  conversation  ended,  and  we  went 
our  way. 

N  2 



THE  Euthydemus  is,  of  all  the  Dialogues  of  Plato,  that  in  which  he 
approaches  most  nearly  to  the  comic  poet.  The  mirth  is  broader,  the 
irony  more  sustained,  the  contrast  between  Socrates  and  the  two 
Sophists,  although  veiled,  penetrates  deeper  than  in  any  other  of  his 
writings.  Even  Thrasymachus,  in  the  Republic,  is  at  last  pacified,  and 
becomes  a  friendly  and  interested  auditor  of  the  great  discourse.  But 
in  the  Euthydemus  the  mask  is  never  dropped ;  the  accustomed  irony 
of  Socrates  continues  to  the  end. 

Socrates  narrates  to  Crito  a  remarkable  scene  in  which  he  has  himself 
taken  part,  and  in  which  the  two  brothers,  Dionysodorus  and  Euthy 
demus,  are  the  chief  performers.  They  are  natives  of  Chios,  who  have 
been  exiled  from  Thurii,  and  in  former  days  had  appeared  at  Athens  as 
teachers  of  rhetoric  and  of  the  art  of  fighting  in  armour.  To  this  they 
have  now  added  a  new  fighting  accomplishment— the  art  of  Eristic,  or 
fighting  with  words,  which  they  are  likewise  willing  to  teach  '  for  a  consi 
deration/  But  they  can  also  teach  virtue  in  a  very  short  time  and  in  the 
very  best  manner.  Socrates,  who  is  always  on  the  look  out  for  teachers 
of  virtue,  is  interested  in  the  youth  Cleinias,  the  grandson  of  the  great 
Alcibiades,  and  is  desirous  that  he  should  have  the  benefit  of  their 
instructions.  He  is  ready  to  fall  down  and  worship  them;  although 
the  greatness  of  their  professions  does  arouse  in  his  mind  a  temporary 

A  circle  gathers  round  them,  in  the  midst  of  which  are  Socrates,  the 
two  brothers,  the  youth  Cleinias,  who  is  watched  by  the  eager  eyes  of 
his  lover  Ctesippus,  and  others.  The  performance  begins ;  and  such  a 
performance  as  might  well  seem  to  require  an  invocation  of  Memory 
and  the  Muses.  It  is  agreed  that  the  brothers  shall  question  Cleinias. 
'  Cleinias,'  says  Euthydemus,  '  who  learn,  the  wise  or  the  unwise  ?'  '  The 


wise/  is  the  reply ;  given  with  blushing  and  hesitation.  '  And  yet  when 
you  learned  you  did  not  know  and  were  not  wise/  Then  Dionysodorus 
takes  up  the  ball :  '  Who  are  they  who  learn  dictation  of  the  grammar- 
master  ;  the  wise  boys  or  the  foolish  boys  ? '  '  The  wise/  '  Then  after 
all  the  wise  learn.'  '  And  do  they  learn/  said  Euthydemus,  '  what  they 
know  or  what  they  do  not  know?'  'The  latter.'  'And  dictation  is  a 
dictation  of  letters  ?'  '  Yes/  '  And  you  know  letters  V  '  Yes/  '  Then 
you  learn  what  you  know.'  '  But/  retorts  Dionysodorus,  '  is  not  learning 
acquiring  knowledge  ?'  '  Yes.'  '  And  you  acquire  that  which  you  have 
not  got  already?'  'Yes.'  'Then  you  learn  that  which  you  do  not 

Socrates  is  afraid  that  the  youth  Cleinias  may  be  discouraged  at  these 
repeated  overthrows.  He  therefore  explains  to  him  the  nature  of  the 
process  to  which  he  is  being  subjected.  The  two  strangers  are  not 
serious;  there  are  jests  at  the  mysteries  which  precede  the  enthrone 
ment,  and  he  is  being  initiated  into  the  mysteries  of  the  sophistical 
ritual.  This  is  all  a  sort  of  horse-play,  which  is  now  ended.  The  ex 
hortation  to  virtue  will  follow,  and  Socrates  himself  (if  the  wise  men  will 
not  laugh  at  him)  is  desirous  of  showing  the  way  in  which  such  an 
exhortation  should  be  carried  on,  according  to  his  own  poor  notion. 
He  proceeds  to  question  Cleinias.  The  result  of  the  investigation  may 
be  summed  up  as  follows  : — 

All  men  desire  good ;  and  good  means  the  possession  of  goods,  such 
as  wealth,  health,  beauty,  birth,  power,  honour ;  not  forgetting  the  vir 
tues  and  wisdom.  And  yet  in  this  enumeration  the  greatest  good  of  all- 
is  omitted.  What  is  that?  Good  fortune.  But  what  need  is  there  of 
good  fortune  when  we  have  wisdom  already : — in  every  art  and  business 
are  not  the  wise  also  the  fortunate  ?  ,  This  is  admitted.  And  again,  the 
possession  of  goods  is  not  enough ;  there  must  be  a  right  use  of  them 
as  well,  and  this  can  only  be  given  by  knowledge :  in  themselves  they 
are  neither  good  nor  evil,  but  knowledge  and  wisdom  are  the  only  good, 
and  ignorance  and  folly  the  only  evil.  The  conclusion  is  that  we  must 
get  'wisdom.'  But  can  wisdom  be  taught?  'Yes/  says  Cleinias.  So 
crates  is  delighted  at  the  ingenuousness  of  the  youth  relieving  him  from 
the  necessity  of  discussing  one  of  his  great  puzzles.  '  As  wisdom  is  the 
only  good,  he  must  become  a  philosopher,  or  lover  of  wisdom/  '  That 
I  will/  says  Cleinias. 

After  Socrates  has  given  this  specimen  of  his  own  mode  of  instruction, 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  1 85 

the  two  brothers  recommence  their  exhortation  to  virtue,  which  is  of 
quite  another  sort. 

' You  want  Cleinias  to  be  wise?'  'Yes.'  'And  he  is  not  wise  yet?' 
'  No.'  '  Then  you  want  him  to  be  what  he  is  not,  and  not  to  be  what 
he  is?— not  to  be — that  is,  to  perish.  Pretty  lovers  and  friends  you 
must  all  be !' 

Here  Ctesippus,  the  lover  of  Cleinias,  interposes  in  great  excitement, 
thinking  that  he  will  teach  the  two  Sophists  a  lesson  of  good  manners. 
But  he  is  quickly  entangled  in  the  meshes  of  their  sophistry;  and  as 
a  storm  seems  to  be  gathering  Socrates  pacifies  him  with  a  joke,  and 
Ctesippus  then  says  that  he  is  not  reviling  the  two  Sophists,  he  is  only 
contradicting  them.  '  But/  says  Dionysodorus,  '  there  is  no  such  thing 
as  contradiction.  When  you  and  I  describe  the  same  thing,  or  you 
describe  one  thing  and  I  describe  another,  how  is  there  any  contradiction 
in  that?'  Ctesippus  is  unable  to  reply. 

Socrates  has  already  heard  of  the  denial  of  contradiction,  and  would 
like  to  be  informed  by  the  great  master  of  the  art,  '  What  is  the  meaning 
of  this?'  Do  they  mean  that  there  is  no  such  thing  as  error,  ignorance, 
falsehood  ?  Then  wrhat  are  they  professing  to  teach  ?  The  two  Sophists 
complain  that  Socrates  is  ready  to  answer  what  they  said  a  year  ago,  but 
is  'non-plussed'  at  what  they  are  saying  now.  'What  does  the  word 
"  non-plussed"  mean?'  Socrates  is  informed,  in  reply,  that  words  arc 
lifeless  things,  and  lifeless  things  have  no  sense  or  meaning.  Ctesippus 
again  breaks  out,  and  again  has  to  be  pacified  by  Socrates,  who  renews 
the  conversation  with  Cleinias.  The  two  Sophists  are  like  Proteus  in  the 
variety  of  their  transformations,  and  he,  like  Menelaus,  hopes  to  restore 
them  to  their  natural  form. 

He  had  arrived  at  the  conclusion  that  Cleinias  must  become  a  philo 
sopher.  And  philosophy  is  the  possession  of  knowledge;  and  know 
ledge  must  be  of  a  kind  which  is  profitable  and  may  be  used.  What 
knowledge  is  there  which  is  of  such  a  nature  ?  Not  the  knowledge 
which  is  required  in  any  particular  art ;  nor  again  the  art  of  the  composer 
of  speeches,  who  knows  how  to  write  them,  but  cannot  speak  them, 
although  he  too  must  be  admitted  to  be  a  kind  of  enchanter  of  wild 
animals.  Neither  is  the  knowledge  which  we  are  seeking  the  know 
ledge  of  the  general.  For  the  general  makes  over  his  prey  to  the  states 
man,  as  the  huntsman  docs  to  the  cook,  or  the  taker  of  quails  to  the 
keeper  of  quails ;  he  has  not  the  use  of  that  which  he  acquires.  The 


two  enquirers,  Cleinias  and  Socrates,  are  described  as  wandering  about 
in  a  wilderness,  vainly  searching  after  the  art  of  life  and  happiness.  At 
last  they  fix  upon  the  kingly  art,  as  having  the  desired  sort  of  know 
ledge.  But  the  kingly  art  only  gives  men  those  goods  which  are  neither 
good  nor  evil :  and  if  we  say  further  that  it  makes  us  wise,  in  what  does 
it  make  us  wise  ?  Not  in  special  arts,  such  as  cobbling  or  carpentering, 
but  only  in  itself:  or  say  again  that  it  makes  us  good,  there  is  no  answer 
to  the  question,  'good  in  what?''  At  length  in  despair  Cleinias  and 
Socrates  turn  to  the  'Dioscuri'  and  request  their  aid. 

Euthydemus  argues  that  Socrates  knows  something ;  and  as  he  cannot 
know  and  not  know,  he  cannot  know  some  things  and  not  know  others, 
and  therefore  he  knows  all  things :  he  and  Dionysodorus  and  all  other 
men  know  all  things.  '  Do  they  know  shoemaking,  &c.  ?'  '  Yes/  The 
sceptical  Ctesippus  would  like  to  have  some  evidence  of  this  .extra 
ordinary  statement :  he  will  believe  if  Euthydemus  will  tell  him  how 
many  teeth  Dionysodorus  has,  and  if  Dionysodorus  will  give  him  a  like 
piece  of  information  about  Euthydemus.  Even  Socrates  is  incredulous, 
and  indulges  in  a  little  raillery  at  the  expense  of  the  brothers.  But  he 
restrains  himself,  remembering  that  if  the  men  who  are  to  be  his  teachers 
think  him  stupid  they  will  take  no  pains  with  him.  Another  fallacy  is 
produced  which  turns  on  the  absoluteness  of  the  verb  '  to  know/  And 
here  Dionysodorus  is  caught  '  napping/  and  is  induced  by  Socrates  to 
confess  that  '  he  does  not  know  the  good  to  be  unjust/  Socrates  appeals 
to  his  brother  Euthydemus;  at  the  same  time  he  acknowledges  that  he 
cannot,  like  Heracles,  fight  against  a  Hydra,  and  even  Heracles,  on  the 
approach  of  a  second  monster,  called  upon  his  nephew  lolaus  to  help. 
Dionysodorus  rejoins  that  lolaus  was  no  more  the  nephew  of  Heracles 
than  of  Socrates.  For  a  nephew  is  a  nephew,  and  a  brother  is  a  brother, 
and  a  father  is  a  father,  not  of  one  man  only,  but  of  all ;  nor  of  men 
only,  but  of  dogs  and  sea-monsters.  Ctesippus  makes  merry  with  the 
consequences  which  follow:  'Much  good  has  your  father  got  out  of 
the  wisdom  of  his  puppies/ 

'But/  says  Euthydemus,  unabashed,  'nobody  wants  much  good/ 
Medicine  is  a  good,  arms  are  a  good,  money  is  a  good,  and  yet  there 
may  be  too  much  of  them  in  wrong  places.  '  No/  says  Ctesippus, 
« there  cannot  be  too  much  gold/  '  And  would  you  be  happy  if  you  had 
three  talents  of  gold  in  your  belly,  a  talent  in  your  pate,  and  a  stater  in 
either  eye  ?'  Ctesippus,  imitating  the  new  wisdom,  replies,  '  And  do  not 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  \  87 

the  Scythians  reckon  those  to  be  the  happiest  of  men  who  have  their 
skulls  gilded  and  see  the  inside  of  them?'  '  Do  you  see,'  retorts  Euthy- 
demus,  '  what  has  the  quality  of  vision  or  what  has  not  the  quality  of 
vision  ?'  '  What  has  the  quality  of  vision.'  '  And  you  see  our  garments  ?' 
'  Yes.'  '  Then  our  garments  have  the  quality  of  vision.'  A  similar  play 
of  words  follows,  which  is  successfully  retorted  by  Ctesippus,  to  the 
great  delight  of  Cleinias,  who  is  rebuked  by  Socrates  for  laughing  at 
such  solemn  and  beautiful  things. 

'  But  are  there  any  beautiful  things  ?  And  if  there  are  such,  are  they 
the  same  or  not  the  same  as  absolute  beauty?'  Socrates  replies  that 
they  are  not  the  same,  but  each  of  them  has  some  beauty  present  with 
it.  'And  are  you  an  ox  because  you  have  an  ox  present  with  you?' 
After  a  few  more  amphiboliae,  in  which  Socrates,  like  Ctesippus,  in  self- 
defence  borrows  the  weapons  of  the  brothers,  they  both  confess  that 
the  two  heroes  are  invincible;  and  the  scene  concludes  with  a  grand 
chorus  of  shouting  and  laughing,  and  a  panegyrical  oration  from 
Socrates : — 

First,  he  praises  the  indifference  of  Dionysodorus  and  Euthydemus  to 
public  opinion;  for  most  persons  would  rather  be  refuted  by  such  argu 
ments  than  use  them  in  the  refutation  of  others.  Secondly,  he  remarks 
upon  their  impartiality;  for  they  stop  their  own  mouths,  as  well  as  those 
of  other  people.  Thirdly,  he  notes  their  liberality,  which  makes  them 
give  away  their  secret  to  all  the  world :  they  should  be  more  reserved, 
and  let  no  one  be  present  at  this  exhibition  who  does  not  pay  them 
a  handsome  fee ;  or  better  still  they  might  practise  on  one  another  only. 
He  concludes  with  a  respectful  request  that  they  will  receive  him  and 
Cleinias  among  their  disciples. 

Crito  tells  Socrates  that  he  has  heard  one  of  the  audience  criticise 
severely  this  wisdom, — not  sparing  Socrates  himself  for  countenancing 
such  an  exhibition.  Socrates  asks  what  manner  of  man  was  this  cen 
sorious  critic.  '  Not  an  orator,  but  a  great  composer  of  speeches.' 
Socrates  understands  that  he  is  an  amphibious  animal,  half  philosopher, 
half  politician ;  one  of  a  class  who  have  the  highest  opinion  of  themselves 
and  a  spite  against  philosophers,  whom  they  imagine  to  be  their  rivals. 
They  are  a  class  who  are  very  likely  to  get  mauled  by  Euthydemus  and 
his  friends,  and  have  a  great  notion  of  their  own  wisdom;  for  they 
imagine  themselves  to  have  all  the  advantages  and  none  of  the  drawbacks 
both  of  politics  and  of  philosophy.  They  do  not  understand  the 


principles  of  combination,  and  hence  are  ignorant  that  the  union  of  two 
good  things  which  have  different  ends  produces  a  compound  inferior  to 
either  of  them  taken  separately. 

Crito  is  anxious  about  the  education  of  his  children,  one  of  whom  is 
growing  up.  The  description  of  Dionysodorus  and  Euthydemus  suggests 
to  him  the  reflection  that  the  professors  of  education  are  strange  beings. 
Socrates  consoles  him  with  the  remark  that  the  good  in  all  professions 
are  few,  and  recommends  that  '  he  and  his  house '  should  continue  to 
serve  philosophy,  and  not  mind  about  its  professors. 

There  is  a  stage  in  the  history  of  philosophy  in  which  the  old  is  dying 
out,  and  the  new  has  not  yet  come  into  full  life.  Great  philosophies 
like  the  Eleatic  or  Heraclitean,  which  have  enlarged  the  boundaries  of 
the  human  mind,  begin  to  pass  away  in  words.  They  subsist  only  as 
forms  \vhich  have  rooted  themselves  in  language — as  troublesome  elements 
of  thought  which  cannot  be  either  used  or  explained  away.  The  same 
absoluteness  which  was  once  attributed  to  abstractions  is  now  attached 
to  the  words  which  are  the  signs  of  them.  The  philosophy  which  in  the 
first  and  second  generation  \vas  a  great  and  inspiring  effort  of  reflection, 
in  the  third  becomes  sophistical,  verbal,  eristic. 

It  is  this  stage  of  philosophy  which  Plato  satirises  in  the  Euthydemus. 
The  fallacies  wrhich  are  noted  by  him  appear  trifling  to  us  now,  but  they 
were  not  trifling  in  the  age  before  logic,  in  the  decline  of  the  earlier  Greek 
philosophies,  at  a  time  when  language  was  first  beginning  to  perplex 
human  thought.  Besides  he  is  caricaturing  them ;  they  probably  received 
more  subtle  forms  at  the  hands  of  those  who  seriously  maintained  them. 
They  are  patent  to  us  in  Plato,  and  we  are  inclined  to  wonder  how  any 
one  could  ever  have  been  deceived  by  them ;  but  we  must  remember 
also  that  there  was  a  time  when  the  human  mind  was  only  with  great 
difficulty  disentangled  from  such  fallacies. 

To  appreciate  fully  the  drift  of  the  Euthydemus,  we  should  imagine 
a  mental  state  in  which  not  individuals  only,  but  whole  schools  during 
more  than  one  generation,  were  animated  by  the  desire  to  exclude  the 
conception  of  rest,  and  therefore  the  very  word  '  thus '  from  language ; 
in  which  the  ideas  of  space,  time,  matter,  motion,  were  proved  to  be  con 
tradictory  and  imaginary ;  in  which  the  nature  of  qualitative  change  was 
a  puzzle,  and  even  differences  of  degree,  when  applied  to  abstract  notions 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  1 89 

were  not  understood ;  in  which  there  was  no  analysis  of  grammar,  and 
mere  puns  or  plays  of  words  received  serious  attention ;  in  which  con 
tradiction  itself  was  denied,  and,  on  the  one  hand,  every  predicate  was 
affirmed  to  be  true  of  every  subject,  and  on  the  other,  it  was  held  that  no 
predicate  was  true  of  any  subject,  and  that  nothing  was,  or  was  known, 
or  could  be  spoken.  Let  us  imagine  disputes  carried  on  with  religious 
earnestness  and  more  than  scholastic  subtlety,  in  which  the'catchwords 
of  philosophy  are  completely  detached  from  their  context.  To  such  dis 
putes  the  humour,  whether  of  Plato  in  the  ancient,  or  of  Pope  and  Swift 
in  the  modern  world,  is  the  natural  enemy.  Nor  must  we  forget  that  in 
modern  times  also  there  is  no  fallacy  so  gross,  no  trick  of  language  so 
transparent,  no  abstraction  so  barren  and  unmeaning,  no  form  of  thought 
so  contradictory  to  experience,  which  has  not  been  found  to  satisfy  the 
minds  of  philosophical  enquirers  at  a  certain  stage,  or  when  regarded 
from  a  certain  point  of  view  only.  The  peculiarity  of  the'  fallacies  of 
our  own  age  is  that  we  live  within  them,  and  are  therefore  generally 
unconscious  of  them. 

Aristotle  has  analysed  several  of  the  same  fallacies  in  his  book  '  De 
Sophisticis  Elenchis,'  which  Plato,  with  equal  command  of  their  true 
nature,  has  preferred  to  bring  to  the  test  of  ridicule.  At  first  we  are  only 
struck  with  the  broad  humour  of  this  '  reductio  ad  absurdum :'  gradually 
we  perceive  that  some  important  questions  begin  to  emerge.  Here,  as 
everywhere  else,  Plato  is  making  war  against  the  philosophers  who  put 
words  in  the  place  of  things,  who  tear  arguments  to  tatters,  who  deny 
predication,  and  thus  make  knowledge  impossible.  Two  great  truths 
seem  to  be  indirectly  taught  through 'these  fallacies:  (i)  The  uncertainty 
of  language,  which  allows  the  same  words  to  be  used  in  different  mean 
ings,  or  with  different  degrees  of  meaning :  (2)  The  necessary  limitation 
or  relative  nature  of  all  phenomena.  Plato  is  aware  that  his  own  doc 
trine  of  ideas  (p.  301  A),  as  well  as  the  Eleatic  Being  and  Not-being, 
alike  admit  of  being  regarded  as  verbal  fallacies  (p.  284  A,B.)  The 
sophism  advanced  in  the  Meno  (p.  80  D),  'that  you  cannot  enquire  either 
into  what  you  know  or  do  not  know,'  is  lightly  touched  upon  at  the  com 
mencement  of  the  Dialogue  (pp.  275,  276);  the  thesis  of  Protagoras,  that 
everything  is  true  to  him  to  whom  it  seems  to  be  true,  is  satirized  at 
p.  286.  In  contrast  with  these  fallacies  is  maintained  the  Socratic  doc 
trine  that  happiness  is  gained  by  knowledge.  The  grammatical  puzzles 
with  which  the  Dialogue  concludes  probably  contain  allusions  to  tricks 

1 90  E  UTH  YDEM  US. 

of  language  which  may  have  been  practised  by  the  disciples  of  Prodicus 
or  Antisthenes.  They  would  have  had  more  point,  if  we  were  acquainted 
with  the  writings  against  which  Plato's  humour  is  directed.  Most  of  the 
jests  appear  to  have  a  serious  meaning;  but  we  have  lost  the  clue  to 
some  of  them,  and  cannot  determine  whether,  as  in  the  Cratylus,  Plato 
has  or  has  not  mixed  up  purely  unmeaning  fun  with  his  satire. 

The  two  discourses  of  Socrates  may  be  contrasted  in  several  respects 
with  the  exhibition  of  the  Sophists  :  ( i )  In  their  perfect  relevancy  to  the 
subject  of  discussion,  whereas  the  Sophistical  discourses  are  wholly 
irrelevant:  (2)  In  their  enquiring  sympathetic  tone,  which  encourages 
the  youth,  instead  of  '  knocking  him  down/  after  the  manner  of  the  two 
Sophists:  (3)  In  the  absence  of  any  definite  conclusion — for  while 
Socrates  and  the  youth  are  agreed  that  philosophy  is  to  be  studied,  they 
are  not  able  to  arrive  at  an}'  certain  result  about  the  art  which  is  to  teach 
it.  This  is  a  question  which  will  hereafter  be  answered  in  the  Republic ; 
as  the  conception  of  the  kingly  art  (291,  292)  is  more  fully  developed  in 
the  Politicus,  and  the  caricature  of  rhetoric  (290)  in  the  Gorgias. 

The  characters  of  the  Dialogue  are  easily  intelligible.  There  is 
Socrates  once  more  in  the  character  of  an  old  man ;  and  his  equal  in 
years,  Crito,  the  father  of  Critobulus,  like  Lysimachus  in  the  Laches,  his 
fellow  demesman  (Apol.  33  D),  to  whom  the  scene  is  narrated,  and  who 
once  or  twice  interrupts  with  a  remark  after  the  manner  of  the  inter 
locutor  in  the  Phaedo,  and  adds  his  commentary  at  the  end;  Socrates 
makes  a  playful  allusion  to  his  money-getting  habits.  There  is  the 
youth  Cleinias,  the  grandson  of  Alcibiades,  who  may  be  compared  with 
Lysis,  Charmides,  Menexenus,  and  other  ingenuous  youths  out  of  whose 
mouths  Socrates  draws  his  own  lessons,  and  to  whom  he  always  seems 
to  stand  in  a  kindly  and  sympathetic  relation.  Crito  will  not  believe 
that  Socrates  has  not  improved  or  perhaps  invented  the  answers  of 
Cleinias  (cp.  Phaedrus,  275  B).  The  name  of  the  grandson  of  Alci 
biades,  who  is  described  as  long  dead,  TOV  7ra\aiov,  and  who  died  at  the 
age  of  forty-four,  in  the  year  404  B.C.,  suggests  not  only  that  the  in 
tended  scene  of  the  Euthydemus  could  not  have  been  earlier  than  404, 
but  that  as  a  fact  this  Dialogue  could  not  have  been  composed  before 
390  at  the  soonest.  Ctesippus,  who  is  the  lover  of  Cleinias,  has  been 
already  introduced  to  us  in  the  Lysis,  and  seems  there  too  to  deserve 
the  character  which  is  here  given  him,  of  a  somewhat  uproarious  young 
man.  But  the  chief  study  of  all  is  the  picture  of  the  two  brothers,  who 


are  unapproachable  in  their  effrontery,  equally  careless  of  what  they  say 
to  others  and  of  what  is  said  to  them,  and  never  at  a  loss.  They  are 
'  Arcades  ambo  et  cantare  pares  et  responclcre  parati/  Some  superior 
degree  of  wit  or  subtlety  is  attributed  to  Euthydemus,  who  sees  the  trap 
in  which  Socrates  catches  Dionysodorus  (296  A). 

The  epilogue  or  conclusion  of  the  Dialogue  has  been  criticised  as 
inconsistent  with  the  general  scheme.  Such  a  criticism  is  like  similar 
criticisms  on  Shakespeare,  and  proceeds  upon  a  narrow  notion  of  the 
variety  which  the  Dialogue,  like  the  drama,  seems  to  admit.  Plato  in 
the  abundance  of  his  dramatic  power  has  chosen  to  write  a  play  upon 
a  play,  just  as  he  often  gives  us  an  argument  within  an  argument.  At 
the  same  time  he  takes  the  opportunity  of  assailing  another  class  of 
persons  who  are  as  alien  from  the  spirit  of  philosophy  as  Euthydemus 
and  Dionysodorus.  The  Eclectic,  the  Syncretist,  the  Doctrinaire,  have 
been  apt  to  have  a  bad  name  both  in  ancient  and  modern  times.  The 
persons  whom  Plato  ridicules  in  the  epilogue  to  the  Euthydemus  are  of 
this  class.  They  occupy  a  border-ground  between  philosophy  and 
politics  ;  they  are  free  from  the  dangers  of  politics,  and  at  the  same 
time  use  philosophy  as  a  means  of  serving  their  own  interests.  Plato 
quaintly  describes  them  as  making  two  good  things,  philosophy  and 
politics,  a  little  worse  by  perverting  the  objects  of  both.  Men  like  Anti- 
phon  or  Lysias  would  be  types  of  the  class.  Out  of  a  regard  to  the 
respectabilities  of  life,  they  are  disposed  to  censure  the  interest  which 
Socrates  takes  in  the  exhibition  of  the  two  brothers.  They  do  not 
understand,  any  more  than  Crito  himself,  that  he  is  pursuing  his  voca 
tion  of  detecting  the  follies  of  mankind,  which  he  finds  '  not  unpleasant.' 
(Cp.  Apol.  23  13,  33  B.) 

Education  is  the  common  subject  of  all  Plato's  earlier  Dialogues. 
The  concluding  remark  of  Crito,  that  he  has  a  difficulty  in  educating 
his  two  sons,  and  the  advice  of  Socrates  to  him  that  he  should  not  give 
up  philosophy  because  he  has  no  faith  in  philosophers,  seems  to  be 
a  preparation  for  the  more  peremptory  declaration  of  the  Mono  that 
'Virtue  cannot  be  taught  because  there  are  no  teachers/ 

The  reasons  for  placing  the  Euthydemus  early  in  the  scries  are : 
(i)  the  similarity  in  plan  and  style  to  the  Protagoras,  Charmides,  and 
Lysis ; — the  relation  of  Socrates  to  the  Sophists  is  still  that  of  humorous 
antagonism,  not,  as  in  the  later  Dialogues  of  Plato,  of  embittered  hatred  ; 
and  the  places  and  persons  have  a  considerable  family  likeness  ;  (2)  the 


Euthydemus  still  belongs  to  the  Socratic  period  in  which  Socrates  is 
represented  as  willing  to  learn,  but  unable  to  teach ;  and  in  the  spirit 
of  Xenophon's  Memorabilia,  philosophy  is  defined  as  'the  knowledge 
which  will  make  us  happy ;'  (3)  we  seem  to  have  passed  the  stage  arrived 
at  in  the  Protagoras,  for  Socrates  is  no  longer  discussing  whether  virtue 
can  be  taught — from  this  question  he  is  relieved  by  the  ingenuous  decla 
ration  of  the  youth  Cleinias ;  and  (4)  not  yet  to  have  reached  the  point 
at  which  he  asserts  '  that  there  are  no  teachers/  Such  grounds  are 
precarious,  as  arguments  from  style  and  plan  are  apt  to  be  (oXio-%)dYaroz> 
TO  yevos).  But  no  arguments  equally  strong  can  be  urged  in  favour  of 
assigning  to  the  Euthydemus  any  other  position  in  the  series. 



SOCRATES,  who  is  the  narrator  EUTHYDEMUS. 

of  the  Dialogue.  DiONYSODORUS. 


SCENE  :— The  Lyceum. 

Crito.  WHO  was  the  person,  Socrates,  with  whom  you  were 
talking  yesterday  at  the  Lyceum  ?  There  was  such  a  crowd 
around  you  that  I  could  not  get  within  hearing,  but  I  caught 
a  sight  of  him  over  their  heads,  and  I  made  out,  as  I  thought, 
that  he  was  a  stranger  with  whom  you  were  talking:  who 
was  he  ? 

Socrates.  There  were  two,  Crito ;  which  of  them  do  you 
mean  ? 

Cri.  The  one  whom  I  mean  was  seated  second  from  you  on 
the  right-hand  side.  In  the  middle  was  Cleinias  the  young 
son  of  Axiochus,  who  has  wonderfully  grown  ;  he  is  only  about 
the  age  of  my  own  Critobulus,  but  he  is  much  forwarder  and 
very  good-looking  :  the  other  is  thin  and  looks  younger  than 
he  is. 

Soc.  He  whom  you  mean,  Crito,  is  Euthydemus ;  and  on 
my  left  hand  there  was  his  brother  Dionysodorus,  who  also 
took  part  in  the  conversation. 

Cri.    *  Neither  of  them  are  known  to  me,  Socrates ;    they  are 

1  Or,  according  to  the  arrangement  of  Stallbaum  : — 

Cri.  Neither  of  them  are  known  to  me. 

Soc.  They  are  a  new  importation  of  Sophists,  as  I  should  imagine. 

Cri.  Of  what  country,  &c. 
VOL.  I.  O 


a  new  importation  of  Sophists,  as  I  should  imagine.     Of  what 
country  are  they,  and  what  is  their  line  of  wisdom  ? 

Soc.  As  to  their  origin,  I  believe  that  they  are  natives  of  this 
part  of  the  world,  and  have  migrated  from  Chios  to  Thurii  ; 
they  were  driven  out  of  Thurii,  and  have  been  living  for  many 
years  past  in  this  region.  As  to  their  wisdom,  about  which  you 
ask,  Crito,  they  are  wonderful — consummate !  I  never  knew 
what  the  true  pancratiast  was  before ;  they  are  simply  made  up 
of  fighting,  not  like  the  two  Acarnanian  brothers  who  fight  with 
their  bodies  only,  but  this  pair  are  perfect  in  the  use  of  their 
bodies  and  invincible  in  every  sort  of  warfare  ;  for  they  are  272 
capital  at  fighting  in  armour,  ar^will  teach  the  art  to  any  one 
who  pays  them  ;  and  also  they  are  most  skilful  in  legal 
warfare  ;  they  will  plead  themselves  and  teach  others  to  speak 
and  to  compose  speeches  which  will  have  an  effect  upon  the 
courts.  And  this  was  only  the  beginning  of  their  wisdom,  but 
they  have  at  last  carried  out  the  pancratiastic  art  to  the  very 
end,  and  have  mastered  the  only  mode  of  fighting  which  had 
been  hitherto  neglected  by  them  ;  and  now  no  one  dares  to 
look  at  them  :  such  is  their  skill  in  the  war  of  words,  that  they 
can  refute  any  proposition  whether  true  or  false.  Now  I  am 
thinking,  Crito,  of  putting  myself  in  their  hands  ;  for  they  say 
that  in  a  short  time  they  can  impart  their  skill  to  any  one. 

Cri.  But,  Socrates,  are  you  not  too  old  ?  there  may  be  reason 
to  fear  that. 

Soc.  Certainly  not,  Crito  ;  as  I  will  prove  to  you,  for  I  have 
the  consolation  of  knowing  that  they  began  this  art  of  disputa 
tion  which  I  covet,  quite,  as  I  may  say,  in  old  age  ;  last  year, 
or  the  year  before,  they  had  none  of  their  new  wisdom.  I  am 
only  apprehensive  that  I  may  bring  the  two  strangers  into 
disrepute,  as  I  have  done  Connus  the  son  of  Metrobius,  the 
harp-player,  who  is  still  my  music-master  ;  for  when  the  boys 
who  go  to  him  see  me  going  with  them,  they  laugh  at  me  and 
call  him  grandpapa's  master.  Now  I  should  not  like  the 
strangers  to  experience  similar  treatment ;  and  perhaps  they 
may  be  afraid  and  not  like  to  receive  me  in  consequence  ;  and 
therefore,  Crito,  I  shall  try  and  persuade  some  old  men  to 
go  along  with  me  to  them,  as  I  persuaded  them  to  go  to 
Connus,  and  I  hope  that  you  will  make  one :  and  perhaps  we 



had  better  take  your  sons  as  a  bait  ;  they  will  want  to  have 
them,  and  will  be  willing  to  receive  us  as  pupils  for  the  sake 
of  them. 

Cri.  I  see  no  objection,  Socrates,  if  you  like ;  but  first  I 
wish  that  you  would  give  me  a  description  of  their  wisdom, 
that  I  may  know  beforehand  what  we  are  going  to  learn. 

Soc.  In  less  than  no  time  you  shall  hear  ;  for  I  cannot  say 
that  I  did  not  attend — I  paid  great  attention  to  them,  and  I 
remember  and  will  endeavour  to  repeat  the  whole  story. 
Providentially  I  was  sitting  alone  in  the  dressing-room  of  the 
Lyceum  where  you  saw  me,  and  being  about  to  depart,  as  I 
was  getting  up  I  recognizec^ie  familiar  divine  sign  :  so  I  sat 
273  down  again,  and  in  a  little  while  the  two  brothers  Euthydemus 
and  Dionysodorus  came  in,  and  several  others  with  them,  whom 
I  believe  to  be  their  disciples,  and  they  walked  about  in  the 
covered  court ;  they  had  not  taken  more  than  two  or  three 
turns  when  Cleinias  entered,  who,  as  you  truly  say,  is  very 
much  improved  :  he  was  followed  by  a  host  of  lovers,  one  of 
whom  was  Ctesippus  the  Paeanian,  a  well-bred  youth,  but  also 
having  the  wildness  of  youth.  Cleinias  saw  me  from  the 
entrance  as  I  was  sitting  alone,  and  at  once  came  and  sat  down 
on  the  right  hand  of  me,  as  you  describe  ;  and  Dionysodorus 
and  Euthydemus,  when  they  saw  him,  at  first  stopped  and 
talked  with  one  another,  now  and  then  glancing  at  us,  for  I 
particularly  watched  them  ;  and  then  Euthydemus  came  and 
sat  down  by  the  youth,  and  the  other  by  me  on  the  left  hand  ; 
the  rest  anywhere.;'  I  saluted  the  brothers,  whom  I  had  not 
seen  for  a  long  time;  and  then  I  said  to  Cleinias:  Here  are 
two  wise  men,  Euthydemus  and  Dionysodorus,  Cleinias,  wise 
not  in  a  small  but  in  a  large  way  of  wisdom,  for  they  know  all 
about  war, — all  that  a  good  general  ought  to  know  about  the 
array  and  command  of  an  army,  and  the  whole  art  of  fighting 
in  armour :  and  they  know  about  law  too,  and  can  teach  a 
man  how  to  use  the  weapons  of  the  courts  when  he  is  injured. 

They  heard  me  say  this,  and  I  was  despised  by  them  ;  they 
looked  at  one  another,  and  both  of  them  laughed  ;  and  then 
Euthydemus  said  :  Those,  Socrates,  are  matters  which  we  no 
longer  pursue  seriously  ;  they  are  secondary  occupations  to  us. 

Indeed,  I  said,  if  such  occupations  are  regarded   by   you   as 

O  2 


secondary,  what  must  the  principal  one  be  ;  tell  me,  I  beseech 
you,  what  that  noble  study  is  ? 

The  teaching  of  virtue,  Socrates,  he  replied,  is  our  principal 
occupation  ;  and  we  believe  that  we  can  impart  it  better  and 
quicker  than  any  man. 

My  God !    I  said,  and  where  did  you   learn  that  ?     I  always 
thought,  as  I  was  saying  just  now,  that  your  chief  accomplish 
ment  was  the  art  of  fighting  in  armour  ;  and  I  used  to  say  as 
much  of  you,  for  I  remember  that  you  professed  this  when  you 
were  here  before.     But  now  if  you  really  have  the  other  know 
ledge,  O  forgive  me  :    I  address  you  as  I  would  superior  beingsj 
and  ask  you  to  pardon  the  impietj^f  my  former  expressions.   But 
are  you  quite  sure  about  this,  Dionysodorus  and  Euthydemus  :  274 
the  promise  is  so  vast,  that  a  feeling  of  incredulity  will  creep  in. 
You  may  take  our  word,  Socrates,  for  the  fact. 
Then  I  think  you  happier  in  having  such  a  treasure  than  the 
great  king  is  in  the  possession  of  his  kingdom.     And  please  to 
tell  me  whether  you  intend  to  exhibit  your  wisdom  ;  or  what  will 
you  do  ? 

That  jte  why  we  are  come  hither,  Socrates  ;  and  our  purpose 
is  not  only  to  exhibit,  but  also  to  teach  any  one  who  likes  to 

But  I  can  promise  you,  I  said,  that  every  unvirtuous  person 
will  want  to  learn.  I  shall  be  the  first ;  and  there  is  the  youth 
Cleinias,  and  Ctesippus  :  and  here  are  several  others,  I  said, 
pointing  to  the  lovers  of  Cleinias,  who  were  beginning  to  gather 
round  us.  Now  Ctesippus  was  sitting  at  some  distance  from 
Cleinias  ;  and  when  Euthydemus  leaned  forward  in  talking  with 
me,  he  was  prevented  from  seeing  Cleinias,  who  was  between 
us  ;  and  so,  partly  because  he  wanted  to  look  at  his  love,  and 
also  because  he  was  interested,  he  jumped  up  and  stood  opposite 
to  us  :  and  all  the  other  admirers  of  Cleinias,  as  well  as  the  dis 
ciples  of  Euthydemus  and  Dionysodorus,  followed  his  example. 
And  these  were  the  persons  whom  I  showed  to  Euthydemus, 
telling  him  that  they  were  all  eager  to  learn :  to  which 
Ctesippus  and  all  of  them  with  one  voice  vehemently  assented, 
and  bid  him  exhibit  the  power  of  his  wisdom.  Then  I  said  : 
O  Euthydemus  and  Dionysodorus,  I  earnestly  request  you  to  do 
myself  and  the  company  the  favour  to  exhibit.  There  may  be 



some  trouble  in  giving  the  whole  exhibition  ;  but  tell  me  one 
thing, — can  you  make  a  good  man  only  of  him  who  is  convinced 
that  he  ought  to  learn  of  you,  or  of  him  also  who  is  not 
convinced,  either  because  he  imagines  that  virtue  is  not  a  thing 
which  can  be  taught  at  all,  or  that  you  two  are  not  the  teachers 
of  it?  Say  whether  your  art  is  able  to  persuade  such  an  one 
nevertheless  that  virtue  can  be  taught ;  and  that  you  are  the 
men  from  whom  he  will  be  most  likely  to  learn. 

Certainly,  Socrates,  said  Dionysodorus  ;  our  art  will  do  both. 

And  you,  Dionysodorus,  I  said,  of  all  men  who  are  now  living 
are   the    most    likely  to   stimulate   him   to   philosophy  and   the 
study  of  virtue? 
275      Yes,  Socrates,  I  rather  think  that  we  are. 

Then  I  wish  that  you  would  be  so  good  as  to  defer  the  other 
part  of  the  exhibition,  and  only  try  to  persuade  the  youth  whom 
you  see  here  that  he  ought  to  be  a  philosopher  and  study  virtue. 
Exhibit  that,  and  you  will  confer  a  great  favour  on  me  and  on 
every  one  present ;  for  the  fact  is  that  I  and  all  of  us  are  ex 
tremely  anxious  that  he  should  be  truly  good.  His  name  is 
Cleinias,  and  he  is  the  son  of  Axiochus,  and  grandson  of  the 
old  Alcibiades,  cousin  of  the  Alcibiades  that  now  is.  He  is 
quite  young,  and  we  are  naturally  afraid  that  some  one  may 
get  the  start  of  us,  and  turn  his  mind  in  a  wrong  direction,  and 
he  may  be  ruined.  Your  visit,  therefore,  is  most  happily  timed; 
and  I  hope  that  you  will  make  a  trial  of  the  young  man,  and 
converse  with  him  in  our  presence,  if  you  have  no  objection. 

These  were  pretty  nearly  the  expressions  which  I  used  ;  and 
Euthydemus,  in  a  lofty  and  at  the  same  time  cheerful  tone,  re 
plied  :  There  can  be  no  objection,  Socrates,  if  the  young  man 
is  only  willing  to  answer  questions. 

He  is  quite  accustomed  to  that,  I  replied  ;  for  his  friends  often 
come  and  ask  him  questions  and  argue  with  him  ;  so  that  he  is 
at  home  in  answering. 

What  followed,  Crito,  how  can  I  rightly  narrate  ?  For  not 
slight  is  the  task  of  rehearsing  infinite  wisdom,  and  therefore, 
like  the  poets,  I  ought  to  commence  my  relation  with  an  invo 
cation  to  Memory  and  the  Muses.  Now  Euthydemus,  if  I 
remember  rightly,  began  nearly  as  follows:  O  Cleinias,  are  those 
who  learn  the  wise  or  the  ignorant  ? 


The  youth,  overpowered  by  the  question,  blushed,  and  in  his 
perplexity  looked  at  me  for  help  ;  and  I,  knowing  that  he  was 
disconcerted,  said  :  Take  courage,  Cleinias,  and  answer  like  a 
man  whichever  you  think  ;  for  my  belief  is  that  you  will  derive 
the  greatest  good  from  their  questions. 

Whichever  he  answers,  said  Dionysodorus,  leaning  forward  in 
my  ear  and  laughing,  I  prophesy  that  he  will  be  refuted, 

While   he   was   speaking   to   me,    Cleinias   gave   his   answer : 
and  therefore  I  had  no  time  to  warn  him  of  the  predicament  in 
which  he  was  placed,  and  he  answered  that  those  who  learned  276 
were  the  wise.  % 

Euthydemus  proceeded :  There  are  some  whom  you  would  call 
teachers,  are  there  not? 

The  boy  assented. 

And  they  are  the  teachers  of  those  who  learn — the  grammar- 
master  and  the  lyre-master  used  to  teach  you  and  other  boys ; 
and  you  were  the  learners  ? 


And  when  you  were  learners  you  did  not  as  yet  know  the 
things  which  you  were  learning? 

No,  he  said. 

And  were  you  wise  then  ? 

No,  indeed,  he  said. 

But  if  you  were  not  wise  you  were  unlearned  ? 


You  then,  learning  what  you  did  not  know,  were  unlearned 
when  you  were  learning? 

The  youth  nodded  assent. 

Then  the  unlearned  learn  ],  and  not  the  wise,  Cleinias,  as  you 

At  these  words  the  followers  of  Euthydemus,  of  whom  I 
spoke,  like  a  chorus  at  the  bidding  of  their  director,  laughed  and 
cheered.  Then,  before  the  youth  had  time  to  recover,  Diony 
sodorus  cleverly  took  him  in  hand,  and  said  :  Yes,  Cleinias  ;  and 
when  the  grammar-master  dictated  to  you,  were  they  the  wise 
boys  or  the  unlearned  who  learned  the  dictation  ? 

The  wise,  replied  Cleinias. 

1  Omitting  <ro</><u. 


Then  after  all  the  wise  are  the  learners  and  not  the  unlearned ; 
and  your  last  answer  to  Euthydemus  was  wrong. 

Then  followed  another  peal  of  laughter  and  shouting,  which 
came  from  the  admirers  of  the  two  heroes,  who  were  ravished 
with  their  wisdom,  while  the  rest  of  us  were  silent  and  amazed. 
Euthydemus,  observing  this,  determined  to  persevere  with  the 
youth ;  and  in  order  to  heighten  the  effect  went  on  asking 
another  similar  question,  wrhich  might  be  compared  to  the 
double  turn  of  an  expert  dancer.  Do  those,  said  he,  who  learn, 
learn  what  they  know,  or  what  they  do  not  know? 

Again  Dionysodorus  whispered  to  me  :  That,  Socrates,  is  just 
another  of  the  same  sort. 

Good  heavens,  I  said  ;  ano*your  last  question  was  so  good ! 

Like  all  our  other  questions,  Socrates,  he  replied — inevitable. 

I  see  the  reason,  I  said,  why  you  are  in  such  reputation  among 
your  disciples. 

Meanwhile  Cleinias  had  answered  Euthydemus  that  those  who 
learned  learn  what  they  do  not  know  ;  and  he  put  him  through 
a  series  of  questions  as  before. 
277      Do  you  not  know  letters? 

He  assented. 

All  letters? 


But  when  the  teacher  dictates  to  you,  does  he  not  dictate 
letters  ? 

He  admitted  that. 

Then  if  you  know  all  letters,  he  dictates  that  which  you 

He  admitted  that  also. 

Then,  said  the  other,  you  do  not  learn  that  which  he  dictates  ; 
but  he  only  who  does  not  know  letters  learns  ? 

Nay,  said  Cleinias  ;  but  I  do  learn. 

Then,  said  he,  you  learn  what  you  know,  if  you  know  all  the 
letters  ? 

He  admitted  that. 

Then,  he  said,  you  were  wrong  in  your  answer. 

The  word  was  hardly  out  of  his  mouth  when  Dionysodorus 
took  up  the  argument,  like  a  ball  which  he  caught,  and  had 
another  throw  at  the  youth.  Cleinias,  he  said,  Euthydemus  is 


deceiving  you.     For  tell  me  now,  is  not  learning  acquiring  know 
ledge  of  that  which  one  learns  ? 

Cleinias  assented. 

And  knowing  is  having  knowledge  at  the  time  ? 

He  agreed. 

And  not  knowing  is  not  having  knowledge  at  the  time? 

He  admitted  that. 

And  are  those  who  acquire  those  who   have  or  have   not  a 
thing  ? 

Those  who  have  not. 

And  have  you  not  admitted  that  those  who  do  not  know  are 
of  the  number  of  those  who  have  not  ? 

He  nodded  assent. 

Then  those  who  learn  are  of  the  class  of  those  who  acquire, 
and  not  of  those  who  have  ? 

He  agreed. 

Then,  Cleinias,  he  said,  those  who  do   not   know  learn,  and 
not  those  who  know. 

Euthydemus  was  proceeding  to  give  the  youth  a  third  fall ; 
but  I  knew  that  he  was  in  deep  water,  and  therefore,  as  I 
wanted  to  rest  him,  and  also  in  order  that  he  might  not  get  out 
of  heart,  I  said  to  him  consolingly :  You  must  not  be  surprised, 
Cleinias,  at  the  singularity  of  their  mode  of  speech  :  this  I  say 
because  you  may  not  understand  what  the  two  strangers  are 
doing  with  you  ;  they  are  only  initiating  you  after  the  manner 
of  the  Corybantes  in  the  mysteries  ;  and  this  answers  to  the 
enthronement,  which,  if  you  have  ever  been  initiated,  is,  as  you 
will  know,  accompanied  by  dancing  and  sport  ;  and  now  they 
are  just  prancing  and  dancing  about  you,  and  will  next  proceed 
to  initiate  you  ;  imagine  then  that  you  have  gone  through  the 
first  part  of  the  sophistical  ritual,  which,  as  Prodicus  says, 
begins  with  initiation  into  the  correct  use  of  terms.  The  two 
gentlemen  wanted  to  explain  to  you,  as  you  do  not  know,  that 
the  word  'to  learn'  has  two  meanings,  and  is  used,  first,  in  the 
sense  of  acquiring  knowledge  of  some  matter  of  which  you  pre-  278 
viously  have  no  knowledge,  and  also,  when  you  have  the  know 
ledge,  in  the  sense  of  reviewing  this  same  matter  done  or 
spoken  by  the  light  of  this  knowledge  ;  the  latter  is  generally 
called  'knowing'  rather  than  'learning,'  but  the  word  'learning' 


is  also  used  ;   and  you  did  not  see  that  the  term  is  employed  of 
two  opposite  sorts  of  men,  of  those  who  know,  and  of  those  who 
do  not  know,  as  they  explained.     There  was  a  similar  trick  in 
the  second  question,  when  they  asked   you  whether  men   learn 
what    they  know  or  what  they  do  not   know.     These   parts   of 
learning  are  not  serious,  and  therefore  I  say  that  the  gentlemen 
are  not  serious,  but  are  only  playing  with  you.     For  if  a  man 
had  all  that  sort  of  knowledge  that  ever  was,  he  would  not  be 
at  all  the  wiser ;    he  would   only   be   able   to   play  with   men, 
tripping   them    up    and   oversetting    them  with   distinctions    of 
words.      He  would   be  like   a   person  who   pulls   away  a   stool 
from  some  one  when  he  is  about  to  sit  down,  and  then  laughs 
and  claps  his  hands  at  the  sight  of  his  friend  sprawling  on  the 
ground.      And    you  must   regard  all   that   has   hitherto   passed 
between   you   and   them   as    merely   play.      But   in  what   is   to 
follow   I  am  certain  that  they  will  exhibit  to  you  their  serious 
purpose,  and   keep   their  promise  (I  will  show  them   how) ;   for 
they   promised   to   give   me   a   sample   of  the   hortatory  philo 
sophy,  but  I  suppose  that   they  wanted  to  have  a  game  with 
you  first.      And  now,  Euthydemus  and  Dionysodorus,   I  think 
that  we  have  had  enough  of  this.     Will  you  let  me  see  you  ex 
plaining  to  the  young  man  how  he  is  to  apply  himself  to  the 
study  of  virtue  and  wisdom  ?     And  I  will  first  show  you  what  I 
conceive  to   be  the   nature   of   the   task,   and   what    I    desire   to 
hear  ;  and  if  I  do  this  in  a  very  inartistic  and  ridiculous  manner, 
do  not  laugh  at  me,  for  I  only  venture  to  improvise  before  you 
because  I  am  eager  to  hear  your  wisdom  :  and  I  must  therefore 
ask  you  and  your  disciples  to  refrain  from  laughing.     And  now, 
O  son  of  Axiochus,  let  me  put  a  question  to  you  :    Do  not  all 
men  desire  happiness?     And  yet,  perhaps,  this  is  one  of  those 
ridiculous  questions  which  I  am  afraid  to  ask,  and  which  ought 
not  to  be  asked  by  a  sensible  man  :   for  what  human  being  is 
there  who  does  not  desire  happiness? 
279      There  is  no  one,  said  Cleinias,  who  docs  not. 

Well,  then,  I  said,  since  we  all  of  us  desire  happiness,  how 
can  we  be  happy? — that  is  the  next  question.  Shall  we  not  be 
happy  if  we  have  many  good  things?  And  this,  perhaps,  is 
even  a  more  simple  question  than  the  first,  for  there  can  be  no 
doubt  of  the  ajiswer. 


He  assented. 

And  what  things  do  we  esteem  good?  No  solemn  sage  is  re 
quired  to  tell  us  this,  which  may  be  easily  answered  ;  for  every 
one  will  say  that  wealth  is  a  good. 

Certainly,  he  said. 

And  are  not  health  and  beauty  goods,  and  other  personal  gifts  ? 

He  agreed. 

Can  there  be  any  doubt  that  good  birth,  and  power,  and 
honours  in  one's  own  land,  are  goods? 

He  assented. 

And  what  other  goods  are  there?  I  said.  What  do  you  say 
of  justice,  temperance,  courage :  do  you  not  verily  and  indeed 
think,  Cleinias,  that  we  shall  be  more  right  in  ranking  them  as 
goods  than  in  not  ranking  them  as  goods?  For  a  dispute 
might  possibly  arise  about  this.  What  then  do  you  say? 

They  are  goods,  said  Cleinias. 

Very  well,  I  said  ;  and  in  what  company  shall  we  find  a  place 
for  wisdom — among  the  goods  or  not? 

Among  the  goods. 

And  now,  I  said,  think  whether  we  have  left  out  any  consi 
derable  goods. 

I  do  not  think  that  we  have,  said  Cleinias. 

Upon  recollection,  I  said,  indeed  I  am  afraid  that  we  have 
left  out  the  greatest  of  them  all. 

What  is  that?  he  asked. 

Fortune,  Cleinias,  I  replied  ;  which  all,  even  the  most  foolish, 
admit  to  be  the  greatest  of  goods. 

True,  he  said. 

On  second  thoughts,  I  added,  how  narrowly,  O  son  of  Axi- 
ochus,  have  you  and  I  escaped  making  a  laughing-stock  of  our 
selves  to  the  strangers. 

Why  do  you  say  that? 

Why,  because  we  have  already  spoken  of  fortune,  and  are  but 
repeating  ourselves. 

What  do  you  mean? 

I  mean  that  there  is  something  ridiculous  in  putting  fortune 
again  forward,  and  saying  the  same  thing  twice  over. 

He  asked  what  was  the  meaning  of  this,  and  I  replied  : 
Surely  wisdom  is  good  fortune  ;  even  a  child  may  know  that. 


The  simple-minded  youth  was  amazed  ;  and,  observing  this,  I 
said  to  him  :  Do  you  not  know,  Clcinias,  that  flute-players  arc 
most  fortunate  and  successful  in  performing  on  the  flute? 

He  assented. 

And  are  not  the  scribes  most  fortunate  in  writing  and  read 
ing  letters? 


Amid  the  dangers  of  the  sea,  again,  are  any  more  fortunate 
on  the  whole  than  wise  pilots? 

None,  certainly. 

And  if  you  were  engaged  in  war,  in  whose  company  would 
you  rather  take  the  risk — in  company  with  a  wise  general,  or 
with  a  foolish  one? 

With  a  wise  one. 

And  if  you  were  ill,  whom  would  you  rather  have  as  a 
companion  in  a  dangerous  illness — a  wise  physician,  or  an 
ignorant  one  ? 

A  wise  one. 

You  think,  I  said,  that  to  act  with  a  wise  man  is  more 
fortunate  than  to  act  with  an  ignorant  one  ? 

He  assented. 

280  Then  wisdom  always  makes  men  fortunate  :  for  by  wisdom 
no  man  would  ever  err,  and  therefore  he  must  act  rightly  and 
succeed,  or  his  wisdom  would  be  wisdom  no  longer. 

We  contrived  at  last,  somehow  or  other,  to  agree  in  a  general 
conclusion,  that  he  who  had  wisdom  had  no  need  of  fortune. 
I  then  recalled  to  his  mind  the  previous  state  of  the  question. 
You  remember,  I  said,  our  making  the  admission  that  we  should 
be  happy  and  fortunate  if  many  good  things  were  present 
with  us? 

He  assented. 

And  should  we  be  happy  by  reason  of  the  presence  of  good 
things,  if  they  profited  us  not,  or  if  they  profited  us  ? 

If  they  profited  us,  he  said. 

And  would  they  profit  us,  if  we  only  had  them  and  did  not 
use  them  ?  For  example,  if  we  had  a  great  deal  of  food  and  did 
not  eat,  or  a  great  deal  of  drink  and  did  not  drink,  should  we 
be  profited? 

Certainly  not,  he  said. 


Or  would  an  artisan,  who  had  all  the  implements  necessary 
for  his  work,  and  did  not  use  them,  be  any  the  better  for  the 
possession  of  all  that  he  ought  to  possess  ?  For  example,  would 
a  carpenter  be  any  the  better  for  having  all  his  tools  and 
plenty  of  wood,  if  he  never  worked  ? 

Certainly  not,  he  said. 

And  if  a  person  had  wealth  and  all  the  goods  of  which  we 
were  just  now  speaking,  and  did  not  use  them,  would  he  be 
happy  because  he  possessed  them  ? 

No  indeed,  Socrates. 

Then,  I  said,  a  man  who  would  be  happy  must  not  only  have 
the  good  things,  but  he  must  also  use  them  ;  there  is  no 
advantage  in  merely  having  them  ? 


Well,  Cleinias,  but  if  you  have  the  use  as  well  as  the  pos 
session  of  good  things,  is  that  sufficient  to  confer  happiness  ? 

Yes,  in  my  opinion. 

And  may  a  person  use  them  either  rightly  or  wrongly  ? 

He  must  use  them  rightly. 

That  is  quite  true,  I  said.  And  the  wrong  use  of  a  thing  is 
far  worse  than  the  non-use  ;  for  the  one  is  an  evil,  and  the  other 
is  neither  a  good  nor  an  evil.  You  admit  that?  281 

He  assented. 

Now  in  the  working  and  use  of  wood,  is  not  that  which  gives 
the  right  use  simply  the  knowledge  of  the  carpenter  ? 

Nothing  else,  he  said. 

And  surely,  in  the  manufacture  of  vessels,  knowledge  is  that 
which  gives  the  right  way  of  making  them  ? 

He  agreed. 

And  in  the  use  of  the  goods  of  which  we  spoke  at  first 
—wealth  and  health  and  beauty,  is  not  knowledge  that  which 
directs  us  to  the  right  use  of  them,  and  guides  our  practice 
about  them  ? 

He  assented. 

Then  in  every  possession  and  every  use  of  a  thing,  know 
ledge  is  that  which  gives  a  man  not  only  good  fortune  but 
success  ? 

He  assented. 

And  tell  me,  I   said,  O   tell   me,  what  do  possessions  profit 



a  man,  if  he  have  neither  sense  nor  wisdom  ?  Would  a  man  be 
better  off,  having  and  doing  many  things  without  wisdom, 
or  a  few  things  with  wisdom?  Look  at  the  matter  thus:  If 
he  did  fewer  things  would  he  not  make  fewer  mistakes  ?  if 
he  made  fewer  mistakes  would  he  not  have  fewer  misfortunes? 
and  if  he  had  fewer  misfortunes  would  he  not  be  less  miser 
able  ? 

Certainly,  he  said. 

And  who  would  do  least — a  poor  man  or  a  rich  man  ? 

A  poor  man. 

A  weak  man  or  a  strong  man  ? 

A  weak  man. 

A  noble  man  or  a  mean  man  ? 

A  mean  man. 

And  a  coward  would  do  less  than  a  courageous  and  tempe 
rate  man  ? 


And  an  indolent  man  less  than  an  active  man  ? 

He  assented. 

And  a  slow  man  less  than  a  quick  ;  and  one  who  had  dull 
perceptions  of  seeing  and  hearing  less  than  one  who  had  keen 
ones  ? 

All  this  was  mutually  allowed  by  us. 

Then,  I  said,  Cleinias,  the  sum  of  the  matter  appears  to 
be  that  the  goods  of  which  we  spoke  before  are  not  to  be 
regarded  as  goods  in  themselves,  but  the  degree  of  good  and 
evil  in  them  depends  on  whether  they  are  or  are  not  under  the 
guidance  of  knowledge  :  under  the  guidance  of  ignorance,  they 
are  greater  evils  than  their  opposites,  inasmuch  as  they  are 
more  able  to  minister  to  the  evil  principle  which  rules  them  ; 
and  when  under  the  guidance  of  wisdom  and  virtue,  they  are 
greater  goods  :  but  in  themselves  they  are  nothing  ? 

That,  he  said,  appears  to  be  certain. 

What  then,  I  said,  is  the  result  of  all  this  ?  Is  not  this  the 
result — that  other  things  are  indifferent,  and  that  wisdom  is  the 
only  good,  and  ignorance  the  only  evil  ? 

He  assented. 

282       Let  us  consider  this  further   point,  I  said  :     Seeing   that   all 
men    desire    happiness,   and    happiness,   as   has    been   shown,  is 

206  E  UTHYDEM  US. 

gained  by  a  use,  and  a  right  use,  of  the  things  of  life,  and  the 
right  use  of  them,  and  good  fortune  in  the  use  of  them,  is  given 
by  knowledge, — the  inference  is  that  every  man  ought  by 
all  means  to  try  and  make  himself  as  wise  as  he  can  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  the  desire  to  obtain  this  treasure,  which  is  far  more 
precious  than  money,  from  a  father  or  a  guardian  or  a  friend 
or  a  suitor,  whether  citizen  or  stranger — the  eager  desire  and 
prayer  to  them  that  they  would  impart  wisdom  to  you,  is  not 
at  all  dishonourable,  Cleinias  ;  nor  is  any  one  to  be  blamed  for 
doing  any  honourable  service  or  ministration  to  any  man, 
whether  a  lover  or  not,  if  his  aim  is  to  get  wisdom.  Do  you 
agree  to  that  ?  I  said. 

Yes,  he  said,  I  quite  agree,  and  think  that  you  are  right. 

Yes,  I  said,  Cleinias,  if  only  wisdom  can  be  taught,  and  does 
not  come  to  man  spontaneously ;  for  that  is  a  point  which 
has  still  to  be  considered,  and  is  not  yet  agreed  upon  by  you 
and  me. 

But  I  think,  Socrates,  that  wisdom  can  be  taught,  he  said. 

Best  of  men,  I  said,  I  am  delighted  to  hear  you  say  that ; 
and  I  am  also  grateful  to  you  for  having  saved  me  from  a  long 
and  tiresome  speculation  as  to  whether  wisdom  can  be  taught 
or  not.  But  now,  as  you  think  that  wisdom  can  be  taught, 
and  that  wisdom  only  can  make  a  man  happy  and  fortunate, 
will  you  not  acknowledge  that  all  of  us  ought  to  love  wisdom, 
and  you  individually  will  try  to  love  her? 

Certainly,  Socrates,  he  said  ;    I  will  do  my  best. 

I  was  pleased  at  hearing  this  ;  and  I  turned  to  Dionysodorus 
and  Euthydemus  and  said  :  That  is  an  example,  clumsy  and 
tedious  I  admit,  of  the  sort  of  exhortations  which  I  desire  you 
to  offer ;  and  I  hope  that  one  of  you  will  set  forth  what  I  have 
been  saying  in  a  more  artistic  style :  at  any  rate '  take  up 
the  enquiry  where  I  left  off,  and  next  show  the  youth  whether 
he  should  have  all  knowledge ;  or  whether  there  is  one  sort 
of  knowledge  only  which  will  make  him  good  and  happy,  and 
what  that  is.  For,  as  I  was  saying  at  first,  the  improvement  of 
this  young  man  in  virtue  and  wisdom  is  a  matter  which  we  have 
very  much  at  heart. 

Thus    I    spoke,    Crito,    and    was   all   attention    to   what   was  283 



coming.  I  wanted-  to  see  how  they  would  approach  the 
question,  and  where  they  would  start  in  their  exhortation  to  the 
young  man  that  he  should  practise  wisdom  and  virtue.  Diony- 
sodorus,  who  was  the  elder,  spoke  first.  Everybody's  eyes  were 
directed  towards  him,  perceiving  that  something  wonderful  might 
shortly  be  expected.  And  certainly  they  were  not  far  wrong  ; 
for  the  man,  Crito,  began  a  remarkable  discourse  well  worth 
hearing,  and  wonderfully  persuasive  as  an  exhortation  to 

Tell  me,  he  said,  Socrates  and  the  rest  of  you  who  say  that 
you  want  this  young  man  to  become  wise,  are  you  in  jest  or  in 
real  earnest  ? 

I  was  led  by  this  to  imagine  that  they  fancied  us  to  have 
been  jesting  when  we  asked  them  to  converse  with  the  youth, 
and  that  this  made  them  jest  and  play,  and  being  under  this 
impression,  I  was  the  more  decided  in  saying  that  we  were  in 
profound  earnest.  Dionysodorus  said  : 

Reflect,  Socrates  ;  you  may  have  to  deny  your  words. 

I  have  reflected,  I  said  ;  and  I  shall  never  deny  my  words. 

Well,  said  he,  and  so  you  say  that  you  wish  Cleinias  to 
become  wise? 


And  he  is  not  wise  as  yet? 

At  least  his  modesty  will  not  allow  him  to  say  that  he  is. 

You  wish  him,  he  said,  to  become  wise  and  not  to  be 
ignorant  ? 

That  we  do. 

You  wish  him  to  be  what  he  is  not,  and  no  longer  to  be  what 
he  is. 

I  was  thrown  into  consternation  at  this. 

Taking  advantage  of  my  consternation  he  added  :  You  wish 
him  no  longer  to  be  what  he  is,  which  can  only  mean  that  you 
wish  him  to  perish.  Pretty  lovers  and  friends  they  must  be  who 
want  their  favourite  not  to  be,  or  to  perish  ! 

When  Ctesippus  heard  this  he  got  very  angry  (as  a  lover 
might)  and  said  :  Strangers  of  Thurii — if  politeness  would  allow 
me  I  should  say,  Perish  yourselves.  What  can  make  you  tell 
such  a  lie  about  me  and  the  others,  which  I  hardly  like  to 
repeat,  as  that  I  wish  Cleinias  to  perish  ? 


Euthydemus  replied  :  And  do  you  think,  Ctesippus,  that  it  is 
possible  to  tell  a  lie? 

Yes,  said  Ctesippus  ;  I  should  be  mad  to  deny  that. 

And  in  telling  a  lie,  do  you  tell  the  thing  of  which  you  speak  284 
or  not? 

You  tell  the  thing  of  which  you  speak. 

And  he  who  tells,  tells  that  thing  which  he  tells,  and  no 
other  ? 

Yes,  said  Ctesippus. 

And  that  is  a  distinct  thing  apart  from  other  things  ? 


And  he  who  says  that  thing  says  that  which  is? 


And  he  who  says  that  which  is,  says  the  truth.  And  there 
fore  Dionysodorus,  if  he  says  that  which  is,  says  the  truth 
of  you  and  no  lie. 

Yes,  Euthydemus,  said  Ctesippus  ;  but  in  saying  this,  he  says 
what  is  not. 

Euthydemus  answered  :    And  that  which  is  not  is  not  ? 


And  that  which  is  not  is  nowhere? 


And  can  any  one  do  anything  about  that  which  has  no 
existence,  or  do  to  Cleinias  that  which  is  not  and  is  nowhere? 

I  think  not,  said  Ctesippus. 

Well,  but  do  rhetoricians,  when  they  speak  in  the  assembly, 
clo  nothing? 

Nay,  he  said,  they  do  something. 

And  doing  is  making? 


And  speaking  is  doing  and  making? 

He  agreed. 

Then  no  one  says  that  which  is  not,  for  in  saying  that,  he 
would  be  doing  nothing  ;  and  you  have  already  acknowledged 
that  no  one  can  do  what  is  not.  And  therefore,  upon  your  own 
showing,  no  one  says  what  is  false  ;  but  if  Dionysodorus  says 
anything,  he  says  what  is  true  and  what  is. 

Yes,  Euthydemus,  said  Ctesippus  ;  but  he  speaks  of  things  in 
a  certain  way  and  manner,  and  not  as  they  really  are. 


Why,  Ctesippus,  said  Dionysodorus,  do  you  mean  to  say  that 
any  one  speaks  of  things  as  they  are  ? 

Yes,  he  said, — all  gentlemen  and  truth-speaking  persons. 

And  are  not  good  things  good,  and  evil  things  evil? 

He  assented. 

And  you  say  that  gentlemen  speak  of  things  as  they  are  ? 


Then  the  good  speak  evil  of  evil  things,  if  they  speak  of  them 
as  they  are  ? 

Yes,  indeed,  he  said  ;  and  they  speak  evil  of  evil  men.  And 
if  I  may  give  you  a  piece  of  advice,  you  had  better  take  care 
that  they  do  not  speak  evil  of  you,  since  I  can  tell  you  that  the 
good  speak  evil  of  the  evil. 

And  do  they  speak  great  things  of  the  great,  rejoined  Euthy- 
demus,  and  warm  things  of  the  warm  ? 

Yes,  indeed,  said  Ctesippus ;  and  they  speak  coldly  of  the 
insipid  and  cold  dialectician. 

You  are  abusive,  Ctesippus,  said  Dionysodorus,  you  are  abusive! 

Indeed,  I  am  not,  Dionysodorus,  he  replied  ;   for  I  love  you 
and  am  giving  you  friendly  advice,  and,  if  I  could,  would  per- 
285  suade  you  not  like  a  boor  to  say  in  my  presence  that  I  desire 
my  beloved,  whom  I  value  above  all  men,  to  perish. 

I  saw  that  they  were  getting  exasperated  with  one  another, 
so  I  made  a  joke  with  him  and  said  :  O  Ctesippus,  I  think  that 
we  must  allow  the  strangers  to  use  language  in  their  own  way, 
and  not  quarrel  with  them  about  words,  but  be  thankful  for 
what  they  give  us.  If  they  know  how  to  destroy  men  in  such 
a  way  as  to  make  good  and  sensible  men  out  of  bad  and  foolish 
ones — whether  this  is  a  discovery  of  their  own,  or  whether  they 
have  learned  from  some  one  else  this  new  sort  of  death  and 
destruction  which  enables  them  to  get  rid  of  a  bad  man  and 
put  a  good  one  in  his  place — if  they  know  this  (and  they  do 
know  this — at  any  rate  they  said  just  now  that  this  was  the 
secret  of  their  newly-discovered  art) — let  them,  in  their  phrase 
ology,  destroy  the  youth  and  make  him  wise,  and  all  of  us  with 
him.  But  if  you  young  men  do  not  like  to  trust  yourselves 
with  them,  then  fiat  experimentum  in  corporc  scnis ;  I  will  be 
the  Carian  on  whom  they  shall  operate.  And  here  I  offer  my 
oldj  person  to  Dionysodorus  ;  he  may  put  me  into  the  pot,  like 

VOL.  I.  p 

2io  E  U  THYDEMUS. 

Medea  the  Colchian,  kill  me,  pickle  me,  eat  me,  if  he  will  only 
make  me  good. 

Ctesippus  said  :  And  I,  Socrates,  am  ready  to  commit  myself 
to  the  strangers ;  they  may  skin  me  alive,  if  they  please  (and  I 
am  pretty  well  skinned  by  them  already),  if  only  my  skin  is 
made  at  last,  not  like  that  of  Marsyas,  into  a  leathern  bottle, 
but  into  a  piece  of  virtue.  And  here  is  Dionysodorus  fancying 
that  I  am  angry  with  him,  when  really  I  am  not  angry  at  all ; 
I  do  but  contradict  him  when  I  think  that  he  is  speaking  im 
properly  to  me :  and  you  must  not  confound  abuse  and  contra 
diction,  O  illustrious  Dionysodorus  ;  for  they  are  quite  different 

Contradiction !  said  Dionysodorus  ;  why,  there  never  was  such 
a  thing. 

Certainly  there  is,  he  replied  ;  there  can  be  no  question  of 
that.  Do  you,  Dionysodorus,  maintain  that  there  is  not? 

You  will  never  prove  to  me,  he  said,  that  you  have  heard  any 
one  contradicting  any  one  else. 

Indeed,  said  Ctesippus ;  then  now  you  may  hear  me  contra 
dicting  Dionysodorus. 

Are  you  prepared  to  make  that  good? 
Certainly,  he  said. 

Well,  have  not  all  things  words  expressive  of  them  ? 
"  Yes. 

Of  their  existence  or  of  their  non-existence? 
Of  their  existence. 

Yes,  Ctesippus,  and  we  just  now  proved,  as  you  may  remem-  286 
ber,  that  no   man  could  affirm  a  negative ;    for  no  one  could 
affirm  that  which  is  not. 

And  what  does  that  signify,  said  Ctesippus ;  you  and  I  may 
contradict  all  the  same  for  that. 

But  can  we  contradict  one  another,  said  Dionysodorus,  when 
both  of  us  are  describing  the  same  thing  ?     Then  we  must  surely 
be  speaking  the  same  thing  ? 
He  admitted  that. 

Or  when  neither  of  us  is  speaking  of  the  same  thing  ?     For 
then  neither  of  us  says  a  word  about  the  thing  at  all? 
He  granted  that  also. 
But  when  I  describe   something   and   you  describe  another 


21  I 

thing,  or  I  say  something  and  you  say  nothing — is  there  any 
contradiction?  How  can  he  who  speaks  contradict  him  who 
speaks  not  ? 

Here  Ctesippus  was  silent ;  and  I  in  my  astonishment  said  : 
What  do  you  mean,  Dionysodorus  ?  I  have  often  heard,  and 
have  been  amazed  to  hear,  this  thesis  of  yours,  which  is  main 
tained  and  employed  by  the  disciples  of  Protagoras,  and  others 
before  them,  and  which  to  me  appears  to  be  quite  wonderful, 
and  suicidal  as  well  as  destructive,  and  I  think  that  I  am  most 
likely  to  hear  the  truth  of  this  from  you.  The  dictum  is  that 
there  is  no  such  thing  as  falsehood  ;  a  man  must  either  say  what 
is  true  or  say  nothing.  Is  not  that  your  position  ? 

He  assented. 

But  if  he  cannot  speak  falsely,  may  he  not  think  falsely  ? 

No,  he  cannot,  he  said. 

Then  there  is  no  such  thing  as  false  opinion  ? 

No,  he  said. 

Then  there  is  no  such  thing  as  ignorance,  or  men  who  are 
ignorant ;  for  is  not  ignorance,  if  there  be  such  a  thing,  a  mis 
take  of  fact  ? 

Certainly,  he  said. 

And  that  is  impossible? 

Impossible,  he  replied. 

Are  you  saying  this  as  a  paradox,  Dionysodorus  ;  or  do.  you 
seriously  maintain  that  no  man  is  ignorant  ? 

Refute  me,  he  said. 

But  how  can  I  refute  you,  if,  as  you  say,  falsehood  is  im 
possible  ? 

Very  true,  said  Euthydemus. 

Neither  did  I  tell  you  just  now  to  refute  me,  said  Dionyso 
dorus  ;  for  how  can  I  tell  you  to  do  that  which  is  not  ? 

O  Euthydemus,  I  said,  I  have  but  a  dull  conception  of  these 
subtleties  and  excellent  devices  of  wisdom  ;  I  am  afraid  that  I 
hardly  understand  them,  and  you  must  forgive  me  therefore  if 
287  I  ask  a  very  stupid  question  :  if  there  be  no  falsehood  or  false 
opinion  or  ignorance,  there  can  be  no  such  thing  as  erroneous 
action,  for  a  man  cannot  fail  of  acting  as  he  is  acting — that  is 
what  you  mean  ? 

Yes,  he  replied. 

r  2 


And  now,  I  said,  I  will  ask  my  stupid  question :  If  there  is 
no  such  thing  as  error  in  deed,  word,  or  thought,  then  what,  in 
the  name  of  goodness,  do  you  come  hither  to  teach  ?  And  were 
you  not  just  now  saying  that  you  could  teach  virtue  best  of  all 
men,  to  any  one  who  could  learn? 

And  are  you  such  an  old  fool,  Socrates,  rejoined  Dionyso- 
dorus,  that  you  bring  up  now  what  I  said  at  first — and  if  I  had 
said  anything  last  year,  I  suppose  that  you  would  bring  that  up 
—but  are  non-plussed  at  the  words  which  I  have  just  uttered? 

Why,  I  said,  they  are  not  easy  to  answer ;  for  they  are  the 
words  of  wise  men  :  and  indeed  I  know  not  what  to  make  of 
this  word  '  non-plussed,'  which  you  used  last :  what  do  you  mean 
by  that,  Dionysodorus  ?  You  must  mean  that  I  cannot  refute 
your  argument.  Tell  me  if  the  words  have  any  other  sense. 

Certainly,  he  said  ;  that  is  my  meaning ;  and  I  wish  that  you 
would  answer. 

What,  before  you,  Dionysodorus  ?  I  said. 

Answer,  said  he. 

And  is  that  fair? 

Yes,  quite  fair,  he  said. 

Upon  what  principle?  I  said.  I  can  only  suppose  that  you 
are  a  very  wise  man,  who  comes  to  us  in  the  character  of  a  great 
logician,  and  who  knows  when  to  answer  and  when  not  to  answer 
— and  now  you  will  not  open  your  mouth  at  all,  because  you 
know  that  you  ought  not. 

You  prate,  he  said,  instead  of  answering.  But  if,  my  good  sir, 
you  admit  that  I  am  wise,  answer  as  I  tell  you. 

I  suppose  that  I  must  obey,  for  you  are  master.  Put  the 

Are  the  things  which  have  sense  alive  or  lifeless  ? 

They  are  alive. 

And  do  you  know  of  any  word  which  is  alive  ? 

I  cannot  say  that  I  do. 

Then  why  did  you  ask  me  what  sense  my  words  had  ? 

Why,  because  I  was  stupid  and  made  a  mistake.  And  yet, 
perhaps,  I  was  right  after  all  in  saying  that  words  have  a  sense ; 
— what  do  you  say,  wise  man  ?  If  I  was  not  in  error,  you  will 
not  refute  me,  and  all  your  wisdom  will  be  non-plussed  ;  but  if 
I  did  fall  into  error,  then  again  you  are  wrong  in  saying  that 

E  UTHYDEMUS.  2  1  3 

288  there  is  no  error,  —  and  this  remark  was  made  by  you  not  quite 
a  year  ago.  I  am  inclined  to  think,  however,  Dionysodorus  and 
Euthydemus,  that  this  argument  is  not  very  likely  to  advance  : 
even  your  skill  in  the  subtleties  of  logic,  which  is  really  amazing, 
has  not  found  out  the  way  of  throwing  another  and  not  falling 

Ctesippus  said  :  Men  of  Chios,  Thurii,  or  however  and  what 
ever  you  call  yourselves,  I  wonder  at  you,  for  you  seem  to  have 
no  objection  to  talking  nonsense. 

Fearing  that  there  would  be  high  words,  I  endeavoured  to 
soothe  Ctesippus,  and  said  to  him  :  To  you,  Ctesippus,  I  must 
repeat  what  I  said  before  to  Cleinias  —  that  you  do  not  under 
stand  the  peculiarity  of  these  philosophers.  They  are  not 
serious,  but,  like  the  Egyptian  wizard,  Proteus,  they  take  dif 
ferent  forms  and  deceive  us  by  their  enchantments  :  and  let  us, 
like  Menelaus,  refuse  to  let  them  go  until  they  show  themselves 
to  us  in  earnest.  When  they  begin  to  be  in  earnest  their  full 
beauty  will  appear:  let  us  then  beg  and  entreat  and  beseech 
them  to  shine  forth.  And  I  think  that  I  had  better  once  more 
exhibit  the  form  in  which  I  pray  to  behold  them  ;  that  will  be 
a  guide  to  them.  I  will  go  on  where  I  left  off  before,  as  well 
as  I  can,  in  the  hope  that  I  may  touch  their  hearts  and  move 
them  to  pity,  and  that  when  they  sec  me  deeply  serious  and 
interested,  they  may  also  be  serious.'  You,  Cleinias,  I  said,  shall 
remind  me  at  what  point  we  left  off.  Did  we  not  agree  that 
philosophy  should  be  studied  ?  and  was  not  that  our  conclusion  ? 
Yes,  he  replied. 

And  philosophy  is  the  acquisition  of  knowled 

e  ? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  what  knowledge  ought  we  to  acquire  ?  Is  not  the  simple 
answer  to  that,  A  knowledge  that  will  do  us  good  ? 

Certainly,  he  said. 

And  should  we  be  any  the  better  if  we  went  about  having  a 
knowledge  of  the  places  where  most  gold  was  hidden  in  the 
earth  ? 

Perhaps  we  should,  he  said. 

But  have  we  not  already  proved,  I  said,  that  we  should  be 
none  the  better  off,  even  if  without  trouble  and  digging  all  the 
gold  that  there  is  in  the  earth  were  ours  ?  And  if  we  knew  how 


to  convert  stones  into  gold,  the  knowledge  would  be  of  no  value  289 
to  us,  unless  we  also  knew  how  to  use  the  gold?    Do  you  not 
remember?  I  said. 

I  quite  remember,  he  said. 

Nor  would  any  other  knowledge,  whether  of  money-making, 
or  of  medicine,  or  of  any  other  art  which  knows  only  how  to 
make  a  thing,  and  not  to  use  that  which  is  made,  be  of  any  use 
to  us.  Is  not  that  true? 

He  agreed. 

And  if  there  were  a  knowledge  which  was  able  to  make  men 
immortal,  without  giving  them  the  knowledge  of  the  way  to  use 
the  immortality,  neither  would  there  be  any  use  in  that,  if  we 
may  argue  from  the  analogy  of  the  previous  instances? 

To  all  this  he  agreed. 

Then,  my  dear  boy,  I  said,  the  knowledge  which  we  want  is 
one  that  uses  as  well  as  makes  ? 

True,  he  said. 

And  our  desire  is  not  to  be  skilful  lyre-makers,  or  artists  of 
that  sort — far  otherwise  ;  for  with  them  the  art  which  makes  is 
one,  and  the  art  which  uses  is  another.  Having  to  do  with  the 
same,  they  are  divided  :  for  the  art  which  makes  and  the  art 
which  plays  on  the  lyre  differ  widely  from  one  another.  Am  I 
not  right  ? 

He  agreed. 

And  clearly  we  do  not  want  the  art  of  the  flute-maker  ;  for 
that  is  another  of  the  same  sort  ? 

He  assented. 

But  suppose,  I  said,  that  we  were  to  learn  the  art  of  making 
speeches — would  that  be  the  art  which  would  make  us  happy? 

I  think  not,  rejoined  Cleinias. 

And  what  proof  have  you  of  that  ?    I  asked. 

I  see,  he  replied,  that  there  are  some  composers  of  speeches 
who  do  not  know  how  to  use  the  speeches  which  they  make, 
just  as  the  makers  of  lyres  do  not  know  how  to  use  the  lyres ; 
and  also  some  who  are  of  themselves  unable  to  compose 
speeches,  but  are  able  to  use  the  speeches  which  the  others 
make  for  them ;  and  this  proves  that  the  art  of  making  speeches 
is  not  the  same  as  the  art  of  using  them. 

Yes,  I  said ;  and  that  I  take  to  be  a  sufficient  proof  that  the  art 

E  UTHYDEMUS.  2 1 5 

of  making  speeches  is  not  one  which  will  make  a  man  happy. 
And  yet  I  did  think  that  the  art  which  we  have  so  long  been 
seeking  might  be  discovered  in  that  direction  ;  for  the  composers 
of  speeches,  whenever  I  meet  them,  always  appear  to  me  to  be 
very  extraordinary  men,  Cleinias,  and  their  art  is  lofty  and 
divine,  and  no  wonder.  For  their  art  is  a  part  of  the  great  art 
290  of  enchantment,  and  hardly,  if  at  all,  inferior  to  it :  and  whereas 
the  art  of  the  enchanter  is  a  mode  of  charming  snakes  and 
spiders  and  scorpions,  and  other  monsters  and  pests,  this  art 
acts  upon  dicasts  and  ecclesiasts  and  bodies  of  men,  for  the 
charming  and  consoling  of  them.  Do  you  agree  with  me? 

Yes,  he  said,  I  think  that  you  are  quite  right. 

Whither  then  shall  we  go,  I  said,  and  to  what  art  shall  we 
have  recourse? 

I  do  not  see  my  way,  he  said. 

But  I  think  that  I  do,  I  replied. 

And  what  is  your  notion  ?  asked  Cleinias. 

I  think  that  the  art  of  the  general  is  above  all  others  the  one 
of  which  the  possession  is  most  likely  to  make  a  man  happy. 

I  do  not  think  that,  he  said. 

Why  not?   I  said. 

The  art  of  the  general  is  surely  an  art  of  hunting  mankind. 

What  of  that  ?   I  said. 

Why,  he  said,  no  art  of  hunting  extends  beyond  hunting  and 
capturing  ;  and  when  the  prey  is  taken  they  cannot  use  it ;  but 
the  huntsman  or  fisherman  hands  it  over  to  the  cook,  and  the 
geometricians  and  astronomers  and  calculators  (who  all  belong 
to  the  hunting  class,  for  they  do  not  make  their  diagrams,  but 
only  find  out  that  which  was  previously  contained  in  them)— 
they,  I  say,  not  being  able  to  use  but  only  to  catch  their  prey, 
hand  over  their  inventions  to  the  dialecticians  to  be  applied  by 
them,  if  they  have  any  sense  in  them. 

Good,  I  said,  fairest  and  wisest  Cleinias.  And  is  this 

Certainly,  he  said  ;  just  as  a  general  when  he  takes  a  city  or 
a  camp  hands  over  his  new  acquisition  to  the  statesman,  for  he 
does  not  know  how  to  use  them  himself;  or  as  the  quail-taker 
transfers  the  quails  to  the  keeper  of  them.  If  we  are  looking 
for  that  art  which  is  to  make  us  blessed,  and  which  is  able  to 

2  1 6  EUTH  YDEMUS. 

use  that  which  it  makes  or  takes,  the  art  of  the  general  is  not 
the  one,  and  some  other  must  be  found. 

Cri.  And  do  you  mean  to  say,  Socrates,  that  the  youngster 
said  that? 

Soc.  Are  you  incredulous,  Crito  ? 

Cri.  Indeed,  I  am  ;  for  if  he  said  that,  I  am  of  opinion  that  he 
needs  neither  Euthydcmus  nor  any  one  else  to  be  his  instructor. 

Soc.  Perhaps  I  may  have  forgotten,  and  Ctesippus  was  the 
real  answerer. 

Cri.  Ctesippus!  nonsense.  291 

Soc.  All  I  know  is  that  I  heard  these  words,  and  that  they 
were  not  spoken  either  by  Euthydemus  or  Dionysodorus.  I 
dare  say,  my  good  Crito,  that  they  may  have  been  spoken  by 
some  superior  person  :  that  I  heard  them  I  am  certain. 

Cri.  Yes,  indeed,  Socrates,  by  some  one  a  good  deal 
superior,  as  I  should  be  disposed  to  think.  But  did  you  carry 
the  search  any  further,  and  did  you  find  the  art  which  you 
were  seeking? 

Soc.  Find !  my  dear  sir,  no  indeed.  And  we  cut  a  poor 
figure ;  we  were  like  children  after  larks,  always  on  the  point  of 
catching  the  art,  which  was  always  getting  away  from  us.  But 
why  should  I  repeat  the  whole  story?  At  last  we  came  to 
the  kingly  art,  and  enquired  whether  that  gave  and  caused 
happiness,  and  then  we  got  into  a  labyrinth,  and  when  we 
thought  we  were  at  the  end,  came  out  again  at  the  beginning, 
having  still  to  seek  as  much  as  ever. 

Cri.  How  did  that  happen,  Socrates? 

Soc.  I  will  tell  you  ;  the  kingly  art  was  identified  by  us  with 
the  political. 

Cri.  Well,  and  what  came  of  that  ? 

Soc.  To  this  royal  or  political  art  all  the  arts,  including  that 
of  the  general,  seemed  to  render  up  the  supremacy,  as  to  the 
only  one  which  knew  how  to  use  that  which  they  created.  Here 
obviously  was  the  very  art  which  we  were  seeking — the  art 
which  is  the  source  of  good  government,  and  which  may  be 
described,  in  the  language  of  Aeschylus,  as  alone  sitting  at  the 
helm  of  the  vessel  of  state,  piloting  and  governing  all  things, 
and  utilizing  them. 

Cri.  And  were  you  not  right,  Socrates? 

E  UTHYDEMUS.  2 1 7 

Soc.  You  shall  judge,  Crito,  if  you  are  willing  to  hear  what 
followed  ;  for  we  resumed  the  enquiry,  and  a  question  of  this 
sort  was  asked :  Does  this  kingly  art,  having  this  supreme 
authority,  do  anything  for  us?  To  be  sure,  was  the  answer. 
And  would  not  you,  Crito,  say  the  same? 

Cri.  Yes,  I  should. 

Soc.  And  what  would  you  say  that  the  kingly  art  does?  If 
medicine  were  supposed  to  have  supreme  authority  over  the 
subordinate  arts,  and  I  were  to  ask  you  a  similar  question  about 
that,  you  would  say  that  it  produces  health? 

Cri.  I  should. 

Soc.    And   what   of  your   own   art   of   husbandry,   supposing 
that    to    have   supreme  authority   over   the    subject    arts — what 
292  does  that  do?     Does  it   not  supply  us  with  the  fruits  of  the 
earth  ? 

Cri.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  what  does  the  kingly  art  do  when  invested  with 
supreme  power?  Perhaps  you  may  not  be  ready  with  an 
answer  ? 

Cri.  Indeed  I  am  not,  Socrates. 

Soc.  No  more  were  we,  Crito.  But  at  any  rate  you  know 
that  if  this  is  the  art  which  we  were  seeking,  it  ought  to  be 

Cri.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  surely  it  ought  to  do  us  some  good? 

Cri.  Certainly,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  Cleinias  and  I  had  arrived  at  the  conclusion  that 
knowledge  is  the  only  good. 

Crt.  Yes,  that  was  what  you  were  saying. 

Soc.  All  the  other  results  of  politics,  and  they  are  many,  as 
for  example,  wealth,  freedom,  tranquillity,  were  neither  good 
nor  evil  in  themselves  ;  but  the  political  science  ought  to  make 
us  wise,  and  impart  wisdom  to  us,  if  that  is  the  science  which 
is  likely  to  do  us  good,  and  make  us  happy. 

Cri.  Yes  ;  that  was  the  conclusion  at  which  you  had  arrived, 
according  to  your  report  of  the  conversation. 

Soc.  And  docs  the  kingly  art  make  men  wise  and  good  ? 

Cri.  Why  not,  Socrates  ? 

Soc.  What,  all  men,  and  in  every  respect  ?    and  teach  them 

2 1 8  E  UTHYDEMUS. 

all    the    arts, — carpentering,    and    cobbling,    and    the    rest    of 
them  ? 

Cri.  I  do  not  think  that,  Socrates. 

Soc.  But  then  what  is  this  knowledge,  and  what  are  we  to 
do  with  it?  For  it  is  not  the  source  of  any  works  which  are 
neither  good  nor  evil,  nor  of  any  knowledge,  but  the  know 
ledge  of  itself;  what  then  can  it  be,  and  what  are  we  to  do 
with  it  ?  Shall  we  say,  Crito,  that  it  is  the  knowledge  by 
which  we  are  to  make  other  men  good  ? 

Cri.  By  all  means. 

Soc.  And  in  what  will  they  be  good  and  useful  ?  Shall  we 
repeat  that  they  will  make  others  good,  and  that  these  others 
will  make  others  again,  without  ever  determining  in  what  they 
are  to  be  good  ;  for  we  have  put  aside  the  results  of  politics,  as 
they  are  called.  This  is  the  old,  old  song  over  again  ;  and  we 
are  just  as  far  as  ever,  if  not  farther,  from  the  knowledge  of 
the  art  or  science  of  happiness. 

Cri.  Indeed,  Socrates,  you  do  appear  to  have  got  into  a  great 

Soc.  Thereupon,  Crito,  seeing  that  I  was  on  the  point  of 
shipwreck,  I  lifted  up  my  voice,  and  earnestly  entreated  and  293 
called  upon  the  strangers  to  save  me  and  the  youth  from  the 
whirlpool  of  the  argument ;  they  were  our  Castor  and  Pollux, 
I  said,  and  they  should  be  serious,  and  show  us  in  sober  earnest 
what  that  knowledge  was  which  would  enable  us  to  pass  the 
rest  of  our  lives  in  happiness. 

Cri.  And  did  Euthydemus  show  you  this  knowledge? 

Soc.  Yes,  indeed ;  he  proceeded  in  a  lofty  strain  to  the  fol 
lowing  effect :  Would  you  rather,  Socrates,  said  he,  that  I 
should  show  you  this  knowledge  about  which  you  are  doubting, 
or  shall  I  prove  that  you  already  have  it  ? 

What,  I  said,  are  you  blessed  with  such  a  power  as  this? 

Indeed  I  am. 

Then  I  would  much  rather  that  you  should  prove  me  to  have 
such  a  knowledge  ;  at  my  time  of  life  that  will  be  more  agree 
able  than  having  to  learn. 

Then  tell  me,  he  said,  do  you  know  anything  ? 

Yes,  I  said,  I  know  many  things,  but  not  anything  of  much 

E  UTHYDEMUS.  2 1 9 

That  will  do,  he  said.  And  would  you  admit  that  anything 
is  what  it  is,  and  at  the  same  time  is  not  what  it  is  ? 

Certainly  not. 

And  did  you  not  say  that  you  knew  something  ? 

I  did. 

If  you  know,  you  are  knowing. 

Certainly,  of  the  knowledge  which  I  have. 

That  makes  no  difference  ;  —  and  must  you  not,  if  you  arc 
knowing,  know  all  things  ? 

Certainly  not,  I  said,  for  there  are  many  other  things  which 
I  do  not  know. 

And  if  you  do  not  know,  you  are  not  knowing. 

Yes,  friend,  of  that  which  I  do  not  know. 

Still  you  are  not  knowing,  and  you  said  just  now  that  you 
were  knowing  ;  and  therefore  you  are  and  are  not  at  the  same 
time,  and  in  reference  to  the  same  things. 

That  is  a  pretty  clatter  of  words,  Euthydemus  ;  and  yet  I 
must  ask  you  to  explain  how  I  have  that  knowledge  which  we 
were  seeking.  Do  you  mean  to  say  that  the  same  thing 
cannot  be  and  not  be  ;  and  therefore,  since  I  know  one  thing, 
that  I  know  all,  for  I  cannot  be  knowing  and  not  knowing 
at  the  same  time,  and  if  I  know  all  things,  then  I  must  have 
that  knowledge?  May  I  assume  this  to  be  your  ingenious 
notion  ? 

Out  of  your  own  mouth,  Socrates,  you  are  convicted,  he 

Well,  but,  Euthydemus,  I  said,  has  that  never  happened 
to  you  ;  for  if  I  am  only  in  the  same  case  with  you  and  our 
beloved  Dionysodorus,  I  cannot  complain.  Tell  me,  then,  you 
two,  do  you  not  know  some  things,  and  not  know  others  ? 

Certainly  not,  Socrates,  said  Dionysodorus. 

What  do  you  mean,  I  said  ;  do  you  know  nothing  ? 

Nay,  he  replied,  we  do  know  something. 
294      Then,  I  said,  you  know  all  things,  if  you  know  anything? 

Yes,  all  things,  he  said ;  and  that  is  as  true  of  you  as 
of  us. 

O,  indeed,  I  said,  what  a  wonderful  thing,  and  what  a 
great  blessing !  And  do  all  other  men  know  all  things  or 
nothing  ? 


Certainly,  he  replied  ;  they  cannot  know  some  things,  and 
not  know  others,  and  be  at  the  same  time  knowing  and  not 

Then  what  is  the  inference  ?   I  said. 

They  all  know  all  things,  he  replied,  if  they  know  one 

O  heavens,  Dionysodorus,  I  said,  I  see  now  that  you  are  in 
earnest  ;  hardly  have  I  got  you  to  that  point.  And  do  you 
really  and  truly  know  all  things,  including  carpentering  and 
leather-cutting  ? 

Certainly,  he  said. 

And  do  you  know  stitching? 

Yes,  by  the  gods,  we  do,  and  cobbling,  too. 

And  do  you  know  things  such  as  the  numbers  of  the  stars 
and  of  the  sand  ? 

Certainly ;   did  you  think  that  we  should  say  No  to  that  ? 

By  Zeus,  said  Ctesippus,  interrupting,  I  only  wish  that  you 
would  give  me  some  proof  which  would  enable  me  to  know 
whether  you  say  truly. 

What  proof  shall  I  give  you  ?   he  said. 

Will  you  tell  me  how  many  teeth  Euthydemus  has?  and 
Euthydemus  shall  tell  how  many  teeth  you  have. 

Will  you  not  take  our  word  that  we  know  all  things? 

Certainly  not,  said  Ctesippus  :  you  must  further  tell  us  this 
one  thing,  and  then  we  shall  know  that  you  are  speaking  the 
truth  ;  if  you  tell  us  the  number,  and  we  count  them,  and  you 
are  found  to  be  right,  we  will  believe  the  rest.  They  fancied 
that  Ctesippus  was  making  game  of  them,  and  they  refused, 
and  they  would  only  say,  in  answer  to  each  of  his  questions, 
that  they  knew  all  things.  For  at  last  Ctesippus  began  to 
throw  off  all  restraint  ;  no  question  in  fact  was  too  bad  for 
him  ;  he  would  ask  them  if  they  knew  the  foulest  things,  and 
they,  like  wild  boars,  came  rushing  on  his  blows,  and  fearlessly 
replied  that  they  did.  At  last,  Crito,  I  too  was  carried  away 
by  my  incredulity,  and  asked  Euthydemus  whether  Dionyso 
dorus  could  dance. 

Certainly,  he  replied. 

And  can  he  vault  among  swords,  and  turn  upon  a  wheel,  at 
his  age  ?  has  he  got  to  such  a  height  of  skill  as  that  ? 

EUTHYDEMUS.  2  2 1 

He  can  do  anything,  he  said. 

And  did  you  always  know  this  ? 

Always,  he  said. 

When  you  were  children,  and  at  your  birth  ? 

They  both  said  that  they  did. 

This  we  could  not  believe.  And  Euthydemus  said  :  You  are 
incredulous,  Socrates. 

Yes,  I  said,  and  I  might  well  be  incredulous,  if  I  did  not 
know  that  you  are  wise  men. 

But  if  you  will  answer,  he  said,  I  will  make  you  confess  to 
similar  marvels. 

Well,  I  said,  there  is  nothing  that  I  should  like  better  than 
to  be  self-convicted  of  this,  for  if  I  am  really  a  wise  man,  which 
I  never  knew  before,  and  you  will  prove  to  me  that  I  know 
and  have  always  known  all  things,  there  is  nothing  in  life  that 
would  be  a  greater  gain  to  me  than  that. 

Answer  then,  he  said. 

Ask,  I  said,  and  I  will  answer. 

Do  you  know  something,  Socrates,  or  nothing? 

Something,  I  said. 

And  do  you  know  with  what  you  know,  or  with  something 

With  what  I  know  ;  and  I  suppose  that  you  mean  with  my 
soul  ? 

Are  you  not  ashamed,  Socrates,  of  asking  a  question  when 
you  are  asked  ? 

Well,  I  said  ;  but  then  what  am  I  to  do  ?  for  I  will  do 
whatever  you  bid  ;  when  I  do  not  know  what  you  are 
asking,  you  tell  me  to  answer  nevertheless,  and  not  to  ask 

W7hy,  you  surely  have  some  notion  of  my  meaning,  he 

Yes,  I  replied. 

Well,  then,  answer  according  to  your  notion  of  my  meaning. 

Yes,  I  said  ;  but  if  the  question  which  you  ask  in  one  sense 
is  understood  and  answered  by  me  in  another,  will  that  please 
you — if  I  answer  what  is  not  to  the  point  ? 

That  will  please  me  very  well  ;  but  will  not  please  you 
equally  well,  as  I  imagine. 


I  certainly  will  not  answer  unless  I  understand  you,  I 

You  will  not  answer,  he  said,  according  to  your  view  of  the 
meaning,  because  you  will  be  prating,  and  are  an  ancient. 

Now  I  saw  that  he  was  getting  angry  with  me  for  drawing 
distinctions,  when  he  wanted  to  catch  me  in  his  springes  of 
words.  And  I  remembered  that  Connus  was  always  angry 
with  me  when  I  opposed  him,  and  then  he  neglected  me,  be 
cause  he  thought  that  I  was  stupid  ;  and  as  I  was  intending  to 
go  to  Euthydemus  as  a  pupil,  I  thought  that  I  had  better  let 
him  have  his  way,  as  he  might  think  me  a  blockhead,  and  re 
fuse  to  take  me.  So  I  said  :  You  are  a  far  better  dialectician 
than  myself,  Euthydemus,  for  I  have  never  made  a  profession 
of  the  art,  and  therefore  do  as  you  say  ;  ask  your  questions 
once  more,  and  I  will  answer. 

Answer  then,  he  said,  again,  whether  you  know  what  you 
know  with  something,  or  with  nothing. 

Yes,  I  said  ;    I  know  with  my  soul. 

The  man  will  answer  more  than  the  question  ;   for  I  did  not  296 
ask  you,  he  said,  with  what  you  know,  but  whether  you  know 
with  something. 

Again  I  replied,  Through  ignorance  I  have  answered  too 
much,  but  I  hope  that  you  will  forgive  me.  And  now  I  will 
answer  simply  that  I  always  know  what  I  know  with  some 

And  is  that  something,  he  rejoined,  always  the  same,  or 
sometimes  one  thing,  and  sometimes  another  thing  ? 

Always,  I  replied,  when  I  know,  I  know  with  this. 

Will  you  not  cease  adding  to  your  answers  ? 

My  fear  is  that  this  word  'always'  may  get  us  into 

You,  perhaps,  but  certainly  not  us.  And  now  answer  :  Do 
you  always  know  with  this  ? 

Always  ;  since  I  am  required  to  withdraw  the  words  '  when 
I  know.' 

You  always  know  with  this,  or,  always  knowing,  do  you  know 
some  things  with  this,  and  some  things  with  something  else,  or 
do  you  know  all  things  with  this  ? 

All  that  I  know,  I  replied,  I  know  with  this. 



There  again,  Socrates,  he  said,  the  addition  is  superfluous. 

Well,  then,  I  said,  I  will  take  away  the  words  '  that  I  know.' 

Nay,  take  nothing  away  ;  I  desire  no  favours  of  you  ;  but 
let  me  ask  :  Would  you  be  able  to  know  all  things,  if  you  did 
not  know  all  things  ? 

Quite  impossible. 

And  now,  he  said,  you  may  add  on  whatever  you  like,  for 
you  confess  that  you  know  all  things. 

I  suppose  that  is  true,  I  said,  if  my  qualification  implied  in 
the  words  '  that  I  know '  is  not  allowed  to  stand  ;  and  so  I  do 
know  all  things. 

And  have  you  not  admitted  that  you  always  know  all  things 
with  that  which  you  know,  whether  you  make  the  addition  of 
'when  you  know  them'  or  not  ?  for  you  have  acknowledged  that 
you  have  always  and  at  once  known  all  things,  that  is  to  say, 
when  you  were  a  child,  and  at  your  birth,  and  when  you  were 
growing  up,  and  before  you  were  born,  and  before  the  heaven 
and  earth  existed,  you  knew  all  things,  if  you  always  know 
them  ;  and  I  swear  that  you  shall  always  continue  to  know 
them,  if  I  am  of  the  mind  to  make  you. 

But  I  hope  that  you  will  be  of  that  mind,  reverend  Euthy- 
demus,  I  said,  if  you  are  really  speaking  the  truth,  and  yet  I 
a  little  doubt  your  power  to  accomplish  this  unless  you  have 
the  help  of  your  brother  Dionysodorus  ;  then  you  may  do  it. 
Tell  me  now,  both  of  you,  for  although  in  the  main  I  cannot 
doubt  that  I  really  do  know  all  things,  when  I  am  told  so  by 
men  of  your  prodigious  wisdom — how  can  I  say  that  I  know 
such  things,  Euthydemus,  as  that  the  good  are  unjust  ;  come, 
do  I  know  that  or  not  ? 

Certainly,  you  know  that. 

What  do  I  know  ? 

That  the  good  are  not  unjust. 

297      Quite  true,  I  said  ;    and  I  have  always  known  that  ;    but  the 
question  is,  where  did  I  learn  that  the  good  are  unjust  ? 

Nowhere,  said  Dionysodorus. 

Then,  I  said,  I  do  not  know  this. 

You  are  ruining  the  argument,  said  Euthydemus  to  Dionyso 
dorus  ;  he  will  be  proved  not  to  know,  and  then  after  all  he 
will  be  knowing  and  not  knowing  at  the  same  time. 


Dionysodorus  blushed. 

I  turned  to  the  other,  and  said,  What  do  you  think,  Euthy- 
demus  ?  Does  your  omniscient  brother  appear  to  you  to  have 
made  a  mistake  ? 

What,  replied  Dionysodorus  in  an  instant  ;  am  I  the  brother 
of  Euthydemus  ? 

Thereupon  I  said,  Please  not  to  interrupt,  my  good  friend,  or 
prevent  Euthydemus  from  proving  to  me  that  I  know  the  good 
to  be  unjust ;  such  a  lesson  you  might  at  least  allow  me  to 

You  are  running  away,  Socrates,  said  Dionysodorus,  and  re 
fusing  to  answer. 

No  wonder,  I  said,  for  I  am  not  a  match  for  one  of  you,  and 
a  fortiori  I  must  run  away  from  two.  I  am  no  Heracles  ;  and 
even  Heracles  could  not  fight  against  the  Hydra,  who  was  a 
she-Sophist,  and  had  the  wit  to  shoot  up  many  new  heads  when 
one  of  them  was  cut  off;  especially  when  he  saw  a  second 
monster  of  a  sea-crab,  who  was  also  a  Sophist,  and  appeared  to 
have  newly  arrived  from  a  sea-voyage,  bearing  down  upon  him 
from  the  left,  opening  his  mouth  and  biting.  Then  he  called 
lolaus,  his  nephew,  to  his  help,  and  he  ably  succoured  him  ; 
but  if  my  lolaus,  who  is  Patrocles  the  statuary,  were  to  come, 
he  would  make  a  bad  business  worse. 

And  now  that  you  have  delivered  yourself  of  this  strain,  said 
Dionysodorus,  will  you  inform  me  whether  lolaus  was  the 
nephew  of  Heracles  any  more  than  he  is  yours  ? 

I  suppose  that  I  had  best  answer  you,  Dionysodorus,  I  said, 
for  you  will  insist  on  asking — that  I  pretty  well  know — out 
of  envy,  in  order  to  prevent  me  from  learning  the  wisdom  of 

Then  answer  me,  he  said. 

Well  then,  I  said,  I  can  only  reply  that  lolaus  was  not  my 
nephew  at  all,  but  the  nephew  of  Heracles  ;  and  his  father  was 
not  my  brother  Patrocles,  but  Iphicles,  who  has  a  name  rather 
like  his,  and  was  the  brother  of  Heracles. 

And  is  Patrocles,  he  said,  your  brother? 

Yes,  I  said,  he  is  my  half  brother,  the  son  of  my  mother,  but 
not  of  my  father. 

Then  he  is  and  is  not  your  brother. 


Not  by  the  same   father,  my  good   man,  I  said,  for  Chaere- 
deinus  was  his  father,  and  mine  was  Sophroniscus. 

And  was  Sophroniscus  a  father,  and  Chaeredemus  also? 

Yes,  I  said  ;  the  former  was  mine,  and  the  latter  his  father. 

Then,  he  said,  Chaeredemus  is  not  a  father. 

He  is  not  my  father,  I  said. 

But  can  a  father  be  other  than  a  father  ?  or  are  you  the  same 
as  a  stone  ? 

I  certainly  do  not  think  that  I  am  a  stone,  I  said,  though  I 
am  afraid  that  you  may  prove  me  one. 

Are  you  not  other  than  a  stone? 

I  am. 

And  being  other  than  a  stone,  you  are  not  a  stone  ;  and  being 
other  than  gold,  you  are  not  gold  ? 
Very  true. 

And  so  Chaeredemus,  he  said,  being  other  than  a  father,  is 
not  a  father? 

I  suppose  that  he  is  not  a  father,  I  replied. 

For  if,  said  Euthydemus,  taking  up  the  argument,  Chaere 
demus  is  a  father,  then  Sophroniscus,  being  other  than  a  father, 
is  not  a  father  ;  and  you,  Socrates,  are  without  a  father. 

Ctesippus  retorted  :  And  is  not  your  father  in  the  same  case, 
for  he  is  other  than  my  father  ? 

Assuredly  not,  said  Euthydemus. 

Then  he  is  the  same? 

He  is  the  same. 

I  cannot  say  that  I  like  the  connection  ;  but  is  he  only  my 
father,  Euthydemus,  or  is  he  the  father  of  all  other  men  ? 

Of  all  other  men,  he  replied.  Do  you  suppose  that  he  is  a 
father  and  not  a  father? 

Certainly,  I  did  imagine  that,  said  Ctesippus. 

And  do  you  suppose  that  gold  is  not  gold,  or  that  a  man  is 
not  a  man  ? 

They  are  not  '  in  pari  material  Euthydemus,  said  Ctesippus, 
and  you  had  better  take  care,  for  it  is  monstrous  to  suppose 
that  your  father  is  the  father  of  all. 

But  he  is,  he  replied. 

What,  of  men  only,  said  Ctesippus,  or  of  horses  and  of  all 
other  animals? 

2  2  6  EUTHYDEMUS. 

Of  all,  he  said. 

And  your  mother,  too,  is  the  mother  of  all  ? 

Yes,  our  mother  too. 

Yes  ;  and  your  mother  has  a  progeny  of  sea-urchins  then  ? 

Yes ;  and  yours,  he  said. 

And  gudgeons  and  puppies  and  pigs  are  your  brothers  ? 

And  yours  too. 

And  your  papa  is  a  dog? 

And  so  is  yours,  he  said. 

If  you  will  answer  my  questions,  said  Dionysodorus,  I  will 
soon  extract  the  same  admissions  from  you,  Ctesippus.  You 
say  that  you  have  a  dog. 

Yes,  a  villain  of  a  one,  said  Ctesippus. 

And  he  has  puppies? 

Yes,  and  they  are  very  like  himself. 

And  the  dog  is  the  father  of  them  ? 

Yes,  he  said,  I  certainly  saw  him  and  the  mother  of  the 
puppies  come  together. 

And  is  he  not  yours? 

To  be  sure  he  is. 

Then  he  is  a  father,  and  he  is  yours  ;  ergo,  he  is  your  father, 
and  the  puppies  are  your  brothers. 

Let  me  ask  you  one  little  question  more,  said  Dionysodorus, 
quickly  interposing,  in  order  that  Ctesippus  might  not  get  in 
his  word  :  You  beat  this  dog  ? 

Ctesippus  said,  laughing,  Indeed  I  do  ;  and  I  only  wish  that 
I  could  beat  you  instead  of  him. 

Then  you  beat  your  father,  he  said.  299 

I  should  have  far  more  reason  to  beat  yours,  said  Ctesippus  ; 
what  could  he  have  been  thinking  of  when  he  begat  such  wise 
sons  ?  much  good  has  this  father  of  you  and  the  puppies  who 
are  your  brothers  got  out  of  this  wisdom  of  yours. 

But  neither  he  nor  you,  Ctesippus,  have  any  need  of  much 

And  have  you  no  need,  Euthydemus?  he  said. 

Neither  I  nor  any  other  man  ;  for  tell  me  now,  Ctesippus,  if 
you  think  it  good  or  evil  for  a  man  who  is  sick  to  drink  medi 
cine  when  he  wants  it  ;  or  to  go  to  war  armed  rather  than 

EUTHYDEMUS.  2  2  7 

•Good,  I  say.  And  yet  I  know  that  I  am  going  to  be  caught 
in  one  of  your  charming  puzzles. 

That,  he  replied,  you  will  discover,  if  you  answer  ;  for  seeing 
that  you  admitted  medicine  to  be  good  for  a  man  to  drink, 
when  wanted,  must  it  not  be  good  for  him  to  drink  as  much 
as  possible — a  cartload  of  hellebore  will  not  be  too  much  for 
him  ? 

Ctesippus  said  :  Certainly  not,  Euthydemus,  if  he  who  drinks 
be  as  big  as  the  statue  of  Delphi. 

And  if,  he  said,  in  war  it  be  good  to  have  arms,  he  ought  to 
have  as  many  spears  and  shields  as  possible  ? 

Very  true,  said  Ctesippus  ;  and  do  you  think  that  he  ought 
to  have  one  shield  only,  Euthydemus,  and  one  spear? 

I  do. 

And  would  you  arm  Geryon  and  Briareus  in  that  way? 
Considering  the  skill  which  you  and  your  companion  have  in 
fighting  in  armour,  I  thought  that  you  would  have  known 
better.  Here  Euthydemus  held  his  peace,  and  Dionysodorus 
returned  to  the  previous  answer. 

Do  you  not  think  that  the  possession  of  gold  is  good  ? 

Yes.  said  Ctesippus,  and  the  more  the  better. 

And  to  have  money  everywhere  and  always  is  a  good  ? 

Certainly,  a  great  good,  he  said. 

And  you  admit  gold  to  be  a  good  ? 

I  have  admitted  that,  he  replied. 

And  ought  not  a  man  then  to  have  gold  everywhere  and 
always,  and  as  much  as  possible  in  himself,  and  may  he  not  be 
deemed  the  happiest  of  men  who  has  three  talents  of  gold  in 
his  belly,  and  a  talent  in  his  head,  and  a  stater  of  gold  in 
either  eye  ? 

Yes,  Euthydemus,  said  Ctesippus  ;  and  the  Scythians  reckon 
those  who  have  gold  in  their  own  skulls  to  be  the  happiest  and 
bravest  of  men  (that  is  only  another  instance  of  your  manner 
of  speaking  about  the  dog  and  father),  and  what  is  still  more 
extraordinary,  they  drink  out  of  their  own  skulls  gilt,  and  see 
the  inside  of  them,  and  hold  their  own  head  in  their  hands. 

And  do  the  Scythians  and  others  see  that  which  has  the 
quality  of  vision,  or  that  which  has  not  ?  said  Euthydemus. 

That  which  has  the  quality  of  vision  clearly. 

Q  2 


And  ]  you  also  see  that  which  has  the  quality  of  vision  ?  he 

Yes,  I  do. 

Then  do  you  see  our  garments? 


Then  our  garments  have  the  quality  of  vision. 

They  can  see  to  any  extent,  said  Ctesippus. 

What  can  they  see? 

Nothing ;  but  you,  my  sweet  man,  may  perhaps  imagine  that 
they  do  not  see  ;  and  certainly,  Euthydemus,  you  do  seem  to 
me  to  have  been  caught  napping  when  you  were  not  asleep, 
and  that  if  it  be  possible  to  say  and  say  nothing — that  is  what 
you  are  doing. 

And  may  there  not  be  a  silence  of  the  speaker?  said  Diony- 

Impossible,  said  Ctesippus. 

Or  a  speaking  of  the  silent  ? 

That  is  still  more  impossible,  he  said. 

But  when  you  speak  of  stones,  wood,  iron  bars,  do  you  not 
speak  of  the  silent  ? 

1  Note :  the  ambiguity  of  8waTa  6pav, '  things  visible  and  able  to  see/  crty^vra 
Xeyeiv,  '  the  speaking  of  the  silent,'  the  silent  denoting  either  the  speaker  or 
the  subject  of  the  speech,  cannot  be  perfectly  rendered  in  English.  Compare 
Aristot.  Soph.  Elenchi,  c.  iv.  (Poste's  translation,  p.  9)  : — 

'  Of  ambiguous  propositions  the  following  are  instances : — 

'  I  hope  that  you  the  enemy  may  slay. 

'  Whom  one  knows,  he  knows.  Either  the  person  knowing  or  the  person 
known  is  here  affirmed  to  know. 

'  What  one  sees,  that  one  sees  :  one  sees  a  pillar :  ergo,  that  one  pillar  sees. 

'  What  you  are  holding,  that  you  are :  you  are  holding  a  stone :  ergo,  a  stone 
you  are. 

'  Is  a  speaking  of  the  silent  possible  ?  "  The  silent"  denotes  either  the  speaker 
or  the  subject  of  speech. 

'  There  are  three  kinds  of  ambiguity  of  term  or  proposition.  The  first  is 
when  there  is  an  equal  linguistic  propriety  in  several  interpretations ;  the 
second  when  one  is  improper  but  customary ;  the  third  when  the  ambiguity 
arises  in  the  combination  of  elements  that  are  in  themselves  unambiguous,  as 
in  "knowing  letters."  "  Knowing"  and  "letters"  are  perhaps  separately  unam 
biguous,  but  in  combination  may  imply  either  that  the  letters  are  known,  or 
that  they  themselves  have  knowledge.  Such  are  the  modes  in  which  propo 
sitions  and  terms  may  be  ambiguous.' 


Not  when  I  pass  a  smithy  ;  for  then  the  iron  bars  make  a 
tremendous  noise  and  outcry  if  they  are  touched  :  so  that  here 
your  wisdom  is  strangely  mistaken  ;  please,  however,  to  tell  me 
how  you  can  be  silent  when  speaking  (I  thought  that  Ctesippus 
was  put  upon  his  mettle  because  Cleinias  was  present). 

When  you  are  silent,  said  Euthydemus,  is  there  not  a  silence 
of  all  things  ? 
Yes,  he  said. 

But    if  speaking  things  are    included   in    all  things,  then    the 
speaking  are  silent. 

What,  said  Ctesippus  ;  then  all  things  are  not  silent  ? 
Certainly  not,  said  Euthydemus. 
Then,  my  good  friend,  do  they  all  speak  ? 
Yes  ;  those  which  speak. 

Nay,  said  Ctesippus,  but  the  question  which  I  ask  is  whether 
all  things  are  silent  or  speak? 

Neither  and  both,  said  Dionysodorus,  quickly  interposing  ;  I 
am  sure  that  you  will  be  £non-plussed'  at  that  answer. 

Here  Ctesippus,  as  his  manner  was,  burst  into  a  roar  of 
laughter  ;  he  said,  That  brother  of  yours,  Euthydemus,  has  got 
into  a  dilemma  ;  all  is  over  with  him.  This  delighted  Cleinias, 
whose  laughter  made  Ctesippus  ten  times  as  uproarious  ;  but  I 
cannot  help  thinking  that  the  rogue  must  have  picked  up  this 
answer  from  them  ;  for  there  has  been  no  wisdom  like  theirs  in 
our  time.  Why  do  you  laugh,  Cleinias,  I  said,  at  such  solemn 
and  beautiful  things? 


Why,  Socrates,  said  Dionysodorus,  did  you  ever  see  a  beauti 
ful  thing? 

Yes,  Dionysodorus,  I  replied,  I  have  seen  many. 
Were   they   other   than    the   beautiful,   or   the   same    as    the 
beautiful  ? 

Now  I  was  in  a  great  quandary  at  having  to  answer  this 
question,  and  I  thought  that  I  was  rightly  served  for  having 
opened  my  mouth  at  all  :  I  said  however,  They  are  not  the 
same  as  absolute  beauty,  but  they  have  beauty  present  with 
each  of  them. 

^  are  you  an  ox  because  an  ox  is  present  with  you,  or  are 
you  Dionysodorus,  because  Dionysodorus  is  present  with  you  ? 
I  entreat  you  not  to  say  that,  I  replied. 


But  how,  he  said,  by  reason  of  one  thing  being  present  with 
another,  will  one  thing  be  another? 

Is  that  your  difficulty?  I  said.  For  I  was  beginning  to  imitate 
their  skill,  on  which  my  heart  was  set. 

Of  course,  he  replied,  I  and  all  the  world  are  in  a  difficulty 
about  the  non-existent. 

What  do  you  mean,  Dionysodorus  ?  I  said.  Is  not  the 
honourable  honourable  and  the  base  base  ? 

That,  he  said,  is  as  I  please. 

And  do  you  please? 

Yes,  he  said. 

And  you  will  admit  that  the  same  is  the  same,  and  the  other 
other  ;  for  surely  the  other  is  not  the  same  ;  I  should  imagine 
that  even  a  child  will  hardly  deny  the  other  to  be  other. 
But  I  think,  Dionysodorus,  that  you  must  have  intentionally 
missed  the  last  question  ;  for  in  general  you  seem  to  me  to  be 
a  good  workman,  and  to  do  the  dialectician's  business  excel 
lently  well. 

What,  said  he,  is  the  business  of  a  good  workman?  tell  me, 
in  the  first  place,  whose  business  is  hammering? 

The  smith's. 

And  whose  the  making  of  pots  ? 

The  potter's. 

And  who  has  to  kill  and  skin  and  mince  and  boil  and  roast  ? 

The  cook,  I  said. 

And  if  a  man  does  his  business  he  does  rightly  ? 


And  the  business  of  the  cook  is  to  cut  up  and  skin  ;  you 
have  admitted  that? 

Yes,  I  have  admitted  that,  but  you  must  not  be  too  severe 
upon  me. 

Then  if  some  one  were  to  kill,  mince,  boil,  roast  the  cook,  he 
would  do  his  business,  and  if  he  were  to  hammer  the  smith, 
and  make  a  pot  of  the  potter,  he  would  do  their  business. 

Poseidon,  I  said,  this  is  the  crown  of  wisdom  ;  can  I  ever  hope 
to  have  such  wisdom  of  my  own  ? 

And  would  you  be  able,  Socrates,  to  recognize  this  wisdom 
when  it  has  become  your  own  ? 

Certainly,  I  said,  if  you  will  allow  me. 



What,  he  said,  do  you  think  that  you  know  what  is  your 
own  ? 

Yes,  I  do,  subject  to  your  correction  ;  for  you  arc  the  bottom, 
and  Euthydemus  is  the  top,  of  all  my  wisdom. 

Is  not  that  which  you  would  deem  your  own,  he  said,  that 
which  you  have  in  your  own  power,  and  which  you  are  able  to 
302  use  as  you  would  desire,  for  example,  an  ox  or  a  sheep — would 
you  not  think  that,  which  you  could  sell  and  give  and  sacrifice 
to  any  god  whom  you  pleased,  to  be  your  own,  and  that  which 
you  could  not  give  or  sell  or  sacrifice  you  would  think  not  to 
be  in  your  own  power? 

Yes,  I  said  (for  I  was  certain  that  something  good  would 
come  of  the  questions,  which  I  was  impatient  to  hear) ;  yes, 
such  things,  and  such  things  only  arc  mine. 

Yes,  he  said,  and  you  would  mean  by  animals  living  beings  ? 

Yes,  I  said. 

You  admit  then,  that  those  animals  only  are  yours  with 
which  you  have  the  power  to  do  all  these  things  which  I  was 
just  naming. 

I  admit  that. 

Then,  after  a  pause,  in  which  he  seemed  to  be  lost  in  the 
contemplation  of  something  great,  he  said  :  Tell  me,  Socrates, 
have  you  an  ancestral  Zeus?  Here  anticipating  the  final  move 
which  was  to  enclose  me  in  the  net,  in  the  attempt  to  get 
away,  I  gave  a  desperate  twist  and  said  :  No,  Dionysodorus,  I 
have  not. 

What  a  miserable  man  you  must  be  then,  he  said  ;  you  are 
not  an  Athenian  at  all  if  you  have  no  ancestral  gods  or  temples, 
or  any  other  mark  of  gentility. 

Nay,  Dionysodorus,  I  said,  do  not  be  rough  ;  good  words,  if 
you  please  ;  in  the  way  of  religion  I  have  altars  and  temples, 
domestic  and  ancestral,  and  all  that  other  Athenians  have. 

And  have  not  other  Athenians,  he  said,  an  ancestral  Zeus  ? 

That  name,  I  said,  is  not  to  be  found  among  the  lonians, 
whether  colonists  or  citizens  of  Athens ;  an  ancestral  Apollo 
there  is,  who  is  the  father  of  Ion,  and  a  family  Zeus,  and 
a  Zeus  guardian  of  the  phratry,  and  an  Athene  guardian 
of  the  phratry.  But  the  name  of  ancestral  Zeus  is  unknown 
to  us. 


No  matter,  said  Dionysodorus,  for  you  admit  that  you  have 
Apollo,  Zeus,  and  Athene. 

Certainly,  I  said. 

And  they  are  your  gods,  he  said. 

Yes,  I  said,  my  lords  and  ancestors. 

At  any  rate  they  are  yours,  he  said,  did  you  not  admit  that? 

I  did,  I  said  ;  what  is  going  to  happen  to  me  ? 

And  are  not  these  gods  animals  ?  For  you  admit  that  all 
things  which  have  life  are  animals  ;  and  have  not  these  gods 

They  have  life,  I  said. 

Then  are  they  not  animals  ? 

They  are  animals,  I  said. 

And  you  admitted  that  of  animals  those  are  yours  which  you 
could  give  away  or  sell  or  offer  in  sacrifice,  as  you  pleased  ? 

I  did  admit  that,  Euthydemus,  and  I  have  no  way  of  escape. 

Well  then,  said  he,  if  you  admit  that  Zeus  and  the  other  gods 
are  yours,  can  you  sell  them  or  give  them  away,  or  do  what  you  303 
will  with  them,  as  you  would  with  other  animals  ? 

At  this  I  was  quite  struck  dumb,  Crito,  and  lay  prostrate. 
Ctesippus  came  to  the  rescue. 

Bravo,  Heracles,  brave  words,  said  he. 

Bravo  Heracles,  or  is  Heracles  a  Bravo?   said  Dionysodorus. 

Poseidon,  said  Ctesippus,  what  awful  distinctions.  I  will  have 
no  more  of  them  ;  the  pair  are  invincible. 

Then,  my  dear  Crito,  there  was  universal  applause  of  the 
speakers  and  their  words,  and  what  with  laughing  and  clapping 
of  hands  and  rejoicings  the  two  men  were  quite  overpowered  ; 
for  hitherto  their  partisans  only  had  cheered  at  each  successive 
hit,  but  now  the  whole  company  shouted  with  delight  until  the 
columns  of  the  Lyceum  returned  the  sound,  seeming  to  sym 
pathize  in  their  joy.  To  such  a  pitch  was  I  affected  myself, 
that  I  made  a  speech,  in  which  I  acknowledged  that  I  had  never 
seen  the  like  of  their  wisdom ;  I  was  their  devoted  servant, 
and  fell  to  praising  and  admiring  of  them.  What  marvellous 
dexterity  of  wit,  I  said,  enabled  you  to  acquire  this  great 
perfection  in  such  a  short  time?  There  is  much,  indeed,  to 
admire  in  your  words,  Euthydemus  and  Dionysodorus,  but 
there  is  nothing  that  I  admire  more  than  your  magnanimous 


disregard  of  any  opinion— whether  of  the  many,  or  of  the  grave 
and  reverend    seigniors — you    regard    only   those  who   are    like 
yourselves.     And    I   do   verily   believe   that   there   are   few  who 
are  like  you,  and  would  approve  of  your  arguments  ;    the  ma 
jority  of  mankind  are  so  ignorant  of  their  value,  that  they  would 
be  more  ashamed  of  employing  them  in  the  refutation  of  others 
than    of  being  refuted   by   them.     I    must    further    express    my 
approval  of  your  kind  and  public-spirited  denial  of  all  differences, 
whether  of  good   and    evil,  white   or  black,  or  any  other;    the 
result  of  which  is  that,  as  you  say,  every  mouth  is  sewn  up,  not 
excepting  your  own,   which   graciously  follows   the   example   of 
others  ;  and  thus  all  ground  of  offence  is  taken  away.    But  what 
appears  to  me  to  be  more  than  all  is,  that  this  art  and  invention 
of  yours  has  been  so  admirably  contrived  by  you,  that  in  a  very 
short    time    it    can    be    imparted    to   any    one.     I    observe    that 
304  Ctesippus  learned  to  imitate  you  in  no  time.     Now  this  quick 
ness  of  attainment  is  an  excellent  thing ;    but  at  the  same  time 
I  would  advise  you  not  to  have  any  more  public  entertainments  ; 
there  is  a  danger  that  men  may  undervalue  an  art  which  they 
have  so  easy  an  opportunity  of  learning  ;    the  exhibition  would 
be  best  of  all,  if  the  discussion  were  confined  to  your  two  selves  ; 
but  if  there  must  be  an  audience,  let  him  only  be  present  who 
is  willing  to  pay  a   handsome   fee  ; — you   should   be   careful   of 
this  ; — and    if  you   are  wise,    you    will   also    bid    your  disciples 
discourse  with  no  man  but  you  and  themselves.     For  only  what 
is   rare  is  valuable  ;    and   '  water,'  which,  as  Pindar  says,  is  the 
*  best  of  all  things,'  is  also  the  cheapest.     And  now  I  have  only 
to  request  that  you  will  receive  Cleinias  and    me   among    your 

Such  was  the  discussion,  Crito  ;  and  after  a  few  more  words 
had  passed  between  us  we  went  away.  I  hope  that  you  will 
come  to  them  with  me,  since  they  say  that  they  arc  able  to 
teach  any  one  who  will  give  them  money  ;  no  age  or  want  of 
capacity  is  an  impediment.  And  I  must  repeat  one  thing  which 
they  said,  for  your  especial  benefit, — that  the  learning  of  their 
art  did  not  at  all  interfere  with  the  business  of  money-making. 

Cri.  Truly,  Socrates,  though  I  am  curious  and  ready  to  learn, 
yet  I  fear  that  I  am  not  like-minded  with  Euthydemus,  but  one 
of  the  other  sort,  who,  as  you  were  saying,  would  rather  be 


refuted  by  such  arguments  than  use  them  in  refutation  of 
others.  And  though  I  may  appear  ridiculous  in  venturing  to 
advise  you,  I  think  that  you  may  as  well  hear  what  was  said 
to  me  by  a  man  of  very  considerable  pretensions — he  was  a 
professor  of  legal  oratory — who  came  away  from  you  while 
I  was  walking  up  and  down.  'Crito,'  said  he  to  me,  'are  you 
giving  no  attention  to  these  wise  men  ? '  '  No,  indeed,'  I  said  to 
him  ;  '  I  could  not  get  within  hearing  of  them — there  was  such 
a  crowd.'  '  You  would  have  heard  something  worth  hearing  if 
you  had.'  '  What  was  that  ? '  I  said.  '  You  would  have  heard 
the  greatest  masters  of  the  art  of  rhetoric  discoursing.'  '  And 
what  did  you  think  of  them  ? '  I  said.  '  What  did  I  think  of 
them  ? '  he  said : — '  what  any  one  would  think  of  them  who  heard 
them  talking  nonsense,  and  making  much  ado  about  nothing.' 
That  was  the  expression  which  he  used.  '  Surely,'  I  said,  '  philo 
sophy  is  a  charming  thing.'  '  Charming ! '  he  said  ;  '  what 
simplicity  !  philosophy  is  nought  ;  and  I  think  that  if  you  had  305 
been  present  you  would  have  been  ashamed  of  your  friend — his 
conduct  was  so  very  strange  in  placing  himself  at  the  mercy 
of  men  who  care  not  what  they  say,  and  fasten  upon  every 
word.  And  these,  as  I  was  telling  you,  are  supposed  to  be  the 
most  eminent  professors  of  their  time.  But  the  truth  is,  Crito, 
that  the  study  itself  and  the  men  themselves  are  utterly  mean 
and  ridiculous.'  Now  censure  of  the  pursuit,  Socrates,  whether 
coming  from  him  or  from  others,  appears  to  me  to  be  unde 
served  ;  but  as  to  the  impropriety  of  holding  a  public  discussion 
with  such  men,  I  confess  that  I  thought  he  was  in  the  right 
about  that. 

Soc.  O  Crito,  they  are  marvellous  men  ;  but  what  was  I  going 
to  say?  What  manner  of  man  was  he  who  came  up  to  you  and 
censured  philosophy  ;  was  he  an  orator  who  himself  practises  in 
the  courts,  or  an  instructor  of  orators,  who  makes  the  speeches 
with  which  they  do  battle  ? 

Cri.  He  was  certainly  not  an  orator,  and  I  doubt  whether  he 
had  ever  been  into  court  ;  but  they  say  that  he  knows  the 
business,  and  is  a  clever  man,  and  composes  wonderful  speeches. 

Soc.  Now  I  understand,  Crito  ;  he  is  one  of  an  amphibious 
class,  whom  I  was  on  the  point  of  mentioning — one  of  those 
whom  Prodicus  describes  as  on  the  border-ground  between 


philosophers  and  statesmen— they  think  that  they  are  the  wisest 
of  all  men,  and  that  they  are  generally  esteemed  the  wisest ; 
nothing  but  the  rivalry  of  the  philosophers  stands  in  their  way  ; 
and  they  are  of  the  opinion  that  if  they  can  prove  the  philoso 
phers  to  be  good  for  nothing,  no  one  will  dispute  their  title 
to  the  palm  of  wisdom,  for  that  they  are  themselves  really  the 
wisest,  although  they  are  apt  to  be  mauled  by  Euthydemus 
and  his  friend,  when  they  get  hold  of  them  in  conversation. 
This  opinion  which  they  entertain  of  their  own  wisdom  is  very 
natural  ;  for  they  have  a  certain  amount  of  philosophy,  and 
a  certain  amount  of  political  wisdom  ;  there  is  reason  in  what 
they  say,  for  they  argue  that  they  have  just  enough  of  both, 
while  they  keep  out  of  the  way  of  all  risks  and  conflicts  and 
reap  the  fruits  of  their  wisdom. 

Cri.    What  do  you  say  of  them,  Socrates  ?     There  is  certainly 
something  specious  in  that  notion  of  theirs. 

Soc.    Yes,  Crito,  there  is  more  speciousness  than  truth  ;    they 
306  cannot  be  made  to  understand  the  nature  of  intermediates.     For 
all  persons  or  things,  which  are  intermediate  between  two  other 
things,  and  participate  in   both    of  them — if  one  of  these  two 
things  is  good  and  the  other  evil,  are  better  than  the  one  and 
worse  than  the  other  ;    but  if  they  are  in  a  mean  between  two 
good  things  which  do  not  tend  to  the  same  end,  they  fall  short 
of    either   of   their   component    elements    in    the   attainment    of 
their  ends.    Only  in  the  case  when  the  two  component  elements 
which  do  not  tend  to  the  same  end  are  evil  is  the  participant 
better  than  either.     Now,  if  philosophy  and  political  action  are 
both  good,  but  tend  to  different  ends,  and   they   participate  in 
both,  and  are  in  a  mean  between  them,  then  they  arc  talking 
nonsense,  for  they  are  worse  than  either  ;  or,  if  the  one  be  good 
and    the   other    evil,    they  are   better   than   the   one   and   worse 
than   the   other;    only   on   the   supposition   that   they   are    both 
evil  could  there  be  any  truth  in  what  they  say.     I  do  not  think 
that  they  will  admit  that  their  two  pursuits  arc  either  wholly  or 
partly  evil  ;    but   the  truth  is,  that  these  philosopher-politicians 
who  aim   at   both  fall   short  of  both  in  the  attainment  of  their 
rcspective  ends,  and  arc  really  third,  although  they  would  like 
to  stand  first.     There  is  no  need,  however,  to  be  angry  at  this 
ambition  of  theirs — they  may  be  forgiven  that  ;    for  every  man 


ought  to  be  loved  who  says  and  manfully  pursues  and  works  out 
anything  which  is  at  all  like  wisdom  :  at  the  same  time  we  shall 
do  well  to  see  them  as  they  really  are. 

Cri.  I  have  often  told  you,  Socrates,  that  I  am  in  a  constant 
difficulty  about  my  two  sons.  What  am  I  to  do  with  them  ? 
There  is  no  hurry  about  the  younger  one,  who  is  only  a  child  ; 
but  the  other,  Critobulus,  is  getting  on,  and  needs  some  one  who 
will  improve  him.  I  cannot  help  thinking,  when  I  hear  you 
talk,  that  there  is  a  sort  of  madness  in  many  of  our  anxieties 
about  our  children  : — in  the  first  place,  about  marrying  a  wife  of 
good  family  to  be  the  mother  of  them,  and  then  about  heaping 
up  money  for  them — and  yet  taking  no  care  about  their 
education.  But  then  again,  when  I  contemplate  any  of  those 
who  pretend  to  educate  others,  I  am  amazed.  They  all  seem 
to  me  to  be  such  outrageous  beings,  if  I  am  to  confess  the  307 
truth  :  so  that  I  do  not  know  how  I  can  advise  the  youth  to 
study  philosophy. 

Soc.  Dear  Crito,  do  you  not  know  that  in  every  profession 
the  inferior  sort  are  numerous  and  good  for  nothing,  and  the 
good  are  few  and  beyond  all  price  :  for  example,  are  not 
gymnastic  and  rhetoric  and  money-making  and  the  art  of  the 
general,  noble  arts  ? 

Cri.    Certainly  they  are,  in  my  judgment. 

Soc.  Well,  and  do  you  not  see  that  in  each  of  these  arts  the 
many  are  ridiculous  performers? 

Cri.    Yes,  indeed,  that  is  very  true. 

Soc.  And  will  you  on  this  account  shun  all  these  pursuits 
yourself  and  refuse  to  allow  them  to  your  son  ? 

Cri.    That  would  not  be  reasonable,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Do  you  then  be  reasonable,  Crito,  and  do  not  mind 
whether  the  teachers  of  philosophy  are  good  or  bad,  but  think 
only  of  philosophy  herself.  Try  and  examine  her  well  and  truly, 
and  if  she  be  evil  seek  to  turn  away  all  men  from  her,  and  not 
your  sons  only  ;  but  if  she  be  what  I  believe  that  she  is,  then 
follow  her  and  serve  her,  you  and  your  house,  as  the  saying  is, 
and  be  of  good  cheer. 



THE  Ion  is  the  shortest,  or  nearly  the  shortest,  of  all  the  writings 
which  bear  the  name  of  Plato,  and  is  not  authenticated  by  any  early 
external  testimony.  The  grace  and  beauty  of  this  little  work  supply  the 
only,  and  perhaps  a  sufficient,  proof  of  its  genuineness.  The  plan  is 
simple,  and  the  dramatic  interest  consists  entirely  in  the  contrast  between 
the  irony  of  Socrates  and  the  transparent  vanity  and  childlike  enthusiasm 
of  the  rhapsode  Ion.  The  theme  of  the  Dialogue  may  possibly  have 
been  suggested  by  the  passage  of  Xenophon's  Memorabilia  (iv.  2,  10)  in 
which  the  rhapsodists  are  described  by  Euthydemus  as  'very  precise 
about  the  exact  words  of  Homer,  but  very  idiotic  themselves.'  (Cp. 
Aristotle,  Met.  xiii.  chap.  6,  7.) 

Ion  the  rhapsode  has  just  come  to  Athens ;  he  has  been  exhibiting  in 
Epidaurus  at  the  festival  of  Asclepius,  and  is  intending  to  exhibit  at  the 
festival  of  the  Panathenaea.  Socrates  admires  and  envies  the  rhapsode's 
art— for  he  is  always  well  dressed  and  in  good  company— in  the  company 
of  good  poets  and  of  Homer,  who  is  the  prince  of  them.  In  the  course 
of  conversation  the  admission  is  elicited  from  Ion  that  his  skill  is 
restricted  to  Homer,  and  that  he  knows  nothing  of  inferior  poets,  such 
as  Hesiod  and  Archilochus ;— he  brightens  up  and  is  wide  awake  when 
Homer  is  being  recited,  but  is  apt  to  go  to  sleep  at  the  recitations  of  any 
other  poet.  '  And  yet,  surely,  he  who  knows  the  superior  ought  to  know 
the  inferior  also ;— he  who  can  judge  of  the  good  speaker  is  able  to 
judge  of  the  bad.  And  poetry  is  a  whole  ;  and  he  who  judges  of  poetry 
by  rules  of  art  ought  to  be  able  to  judge  of  all  poetry/  This  is  con 
firmed  by  the  analogy  of  sculpture,  painting,  flute-playing,  and  the  other 
arts.  The  argument  is  at  last  brought  home  to  the  mind  of  Ion,  who 
asks  how  this  contradiction  is  to  be  solved.  The  solution  given  by 
Socrates  is  as  follows  : — 

I          The  rhapsode  is  not  guided  by  rules  of  art,  but  is  an  inspired  person 
who  derives  a  mysterious  power  from  the  poet ;    and  the  poet,  in  like 

240  ION. 

manner,  is  inspired  by  the  God.  The  poets  and  their  interpreters  may 
be  compared  to  a  chain  of  magnetic  rings  suspended  from  one  another, 
and  from  a  magnet.  The  magnet  is  the  Muse,  and  the  large  ring  which 
comes  next  in  order  is  the  poet  himself;  then  follow  the  rhapsodes  and 
actors,  who  are  rings  of  inferior  power ;  and  the  last  ring  of  all  is  the 
spectator.  The  poet  is  the  inspired  interpreter  of  the  God,  and  thisjs_ 
the  reason  why  some  poets,  like  Homer,  are  restricted  to  a  single  theme, 
or,  like  Tynnichus,  are  famous  for  a  single  poem ;  and  the  rhapsode  is 
the  inspired  interpreter  of  the  poet,  and  for  a  similar  reason  some 
rhapsodes,  like  Ion,  are  the  interpreters  of  single  poets. 

Ion  is  delighted  at  the  notion  of  being  inspired,  and  acknowledges  that 
he  is  beside  himself  when  he  is  performing  ; — his  eyes  rain  tears  and  his 
hair  stands  on  end.  Socrates  is  of  opinion  that  a  man  must  be  mad  who 
behaves  in  this  way  at  a  festival  when  there  is  nothing  to  trouble  him. 
Ion  is  confident  that  Socrates  would  never  think  him  mad  if  he  could 
only  hear  his  embellishments  of  Homer.  Socrates  asks  whether  he  can 
speak  well  about  everything  in  Homer.  '  Yes,  indeed  he  can/  '  What 
about  things  of  which  he  has  no  knowledge?'  Ion  answers  that  he  can 
interpret  anything  in  Homer.  But,  rejoins  Socrates,  when  Homer  speaks 
of  the  arts,  as  for  example,  of  chariot-driving,  or  of  medicine,  or  of 
prophecy,  or  of  navigation — will  he,  or  will  the  charioteer  or  physician  or 
prophet  or  pilot  be  the  better  judge?  Ion  is  compelled  to  admit  that 
every  man  will  judge  of  his  own  particular  art  better  than  the  rhapsode. 
He  still  maintains,  however,  that  he  understands  the  art  of  the  general  as 
well  as  any  one.  '  Then  why  in  this  city  of  Athens,  in  which  men  of 
merit  are  always  being  sought  after,  is  he  not  at  once  appointed  a 
general  ? '  Ion  replies  that  he  is  a  foreigner,  and  the  Athenians  and 
Spartans  will  not  appoint  a  foreigner  to  be  their  general.  '  No,  that  is 
not  the  real  reason.  But  Ion  has  long  been  playing  tricks  with  the 
argument ;  like  Proteus,  he  transforms  himself  into  a  variety  of  shapes, 
and  is  at  last  about  to  escape  in  the  disguise  of  a  general.  Would  he 
rather  be  regarded  as  inspired  or  dishonest  ? '  Ion,  who  has  no  suspicion 
of  the  irony  of  Socrates,  eagerly  embraces  the  alternative  of  inspiration. 

The  Ion,  like  the  other  earlier  Platonic  Dialogues,  is  a  mixture  of  jest 
and  earnest,  in  which  no  definite  result  is  obtained,  but  some  Socratic  or 
Platonic  truths  are  allowed  dimly  to  appear. 

The  elements  of  a  true  theory  of  poetry  are  contained  in  the  notion 


that  the  poet  is  inspired.  Genius  is  often  said  to  be  unconscious,  or 
spontaneous,  or  a  gift  of  nature  :  that  genius  is  akin  to  madness  is 
a  popular  aphorism  of  modern  times.  The  greatest  strength  is  observed 
to  have  an  element  of  limitation.  Imagination  is  often  at  war  with 
reason  and  fact.  Reflections  of  this  kind  may  have  been  passing  before 
Plato's  mind  when  he  describes  the  poet  as  inspired,  or  when,  as  in  the 
Apology  (22  b,  foil.),  he  speaks  of  poets  as  the  worst  critics  of  their  own 
writings — anybody  taken  at  random  from  the  crowd  is  a  better  interpreter 
of  them  than  they  are  of  themselves.  They  are  sacred  persons,  '  winged 
and  holy  things/  who  have  a  touch  of  madness  in  their  composition 
(Phaedr.  245  a),  and  should  be  treated  with  every  sort  of  respect 
(Rep.  iii.  398  a),  but  not  allowed  to  live  in  a  well-ordered  state.  Like 
the  Statesmen  in  the  Meno  (p.  99),  they  have  a  divine  instinct,  but 
they  are  narrow  and  confused ;  they  do  not  attain  to  the  clearness  of 
ideas,  or  to  the  knowledge  of  poetry  or  of  any  other  art  as  a  whole. 

In  the  Protagoras  (316  d,  foil.)  the  ancient  poets  are  recognized  by 
Protagoras  himself  as  the  original  sophists ;  and  this  family  resemblance 
may  be  traced  in  the  Ion.  The  rhapsode  belongs  to  the  realm  of  imita 
tion  and  of  opinion:  he  professes  to  have  all  knowledge,  which  is 
derived  by  him  from  Homer,  just  as  the  sophist  professes  to  have  all 
wisdom,  which  is  contained  in  his  art  of  rhetoric.  Even  more  than  the 
sophist  he  is  incapable  of  appreciating  the  commonest  logical  distinc 
tions  ;  he  cannot  explain  the  nature  of  his  own  art ;  his  great  memory 
contrasts  with  his  inability  to  follow  the  steps  of  the  argument.  And 
in  his  highest  dramatic  flights  he  has  an  eye  to  his  own  gains. 

The  old  quarrel  between  philosophy  and  poetry,  which  in  the  Republic 
leads  to  their  final  separation,  is  already  working  in  the  mind  of  Plato, 
and  is  embodied  by  him  in  the  contrast  between  Socrates  and  Ion.  Yet 
here,  as  in  the  Republic,  Socrates  shows  a  sympathy  with  the  poetic 
nature.  Also,  the  manner  in  which  Ion  is  affected  by  his  own  recitations 
affords  a  lively  illustration  of  the  power  which,  in  the  Republic  (394 
foil.),  Socrates  attributes  to  dramatic  performances  over  the  mind  of 
the  performer.  His  allusion  to  his  embellishments  of  Homer,  in  which 
he  declares  himself  to  have  surpassed  Metrodorus  of  Lampsacus  and 
Stesimbrotus  of  Thasos,  seems  to  show  that,  like  them,  he  belonged 
to  the  allegorical  school  of  interpreters.  The  circumstance  that  nothing 
more  is  known  of  him  may  be  adduced  in  confirmation  of  the  argument 
that  this  truly  Platonic  little  work  is  not  a  forgery  of  later  times. 
VOL.  I.  R 



•tcph.      Socrates.  WELCOME,  Ion.     Are  you  from  your  native  city  of 

°  Ephcsus  ? 

Ion.  No,  Socrates  ;  but  from  Epidaurus,  where  I  attended  the 
festival  of  Asclepius. 

Soc.  And  do  the   Epidaurians  have  contests  of  rhapsodes  at 
the  festival? 

Ion.  O  yes,  and  of  all  sorts  of  musical  performers. 

Soc.  And   were   you    one   of  the   competitors— and    did   you 

Ion.   I  obtained  the  first  prize  of  all,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Well  done  ;  and  I  hope  that  you  will  do  the  same  for  us 
at  the  Panathenaea. 

Ion.  And  I  will,  please  heaven. 

Soc.  I  often  envy  the  profession  of  a  rhapsode,  Ion  ;  for  you 
have  always  to  wear  fine  clothes,  and  to  look  as  beautiful  as  you 
can  is  a  part  of  your  art.  Then,  again,  you  arc  obliged  to  be 
continually  in  the  company  of  many  good  poets  ;  and  especially 
of  Homer,  who  is  the  best  and  most  divine  of  them  ;  and  to 
understand  him,  and  not  merely  learn  his  words  by  rote,  is  a 
thing  greatly  to  be  envied.  And  no  man  can  be  a  rhapsode 
who  does  not  understand  the  meaning  of  the  poct.^  For  the 
rhapsode  ought  to  interpret  the  mind  of  the  poet  to  his  hearers, 
but  how  can  he  interpret  him  well  unless  he  knows  what  he  means? 
All  this  is  greatly  to  be  envied. 

Ion.    Very   true,   Socrates;    interpretation   has    certainly  1 
the  most  laborious  part  of  my  art ;  and  I  believe  myself  able  to 

244  ION. 

speak  about  Homer  better  than  any  man ;  and  that  neither 
Metrodorus  of  Lampsacus,  nor  Stesimbrotus  of  Thasos,  nor 
Glaucon,  nor  any  one  else  who  ever  was,  had  as  good  ideas 
about  Homer,  or  as  many  of  them,  as  I  have. 

Soc.  I  am  glad  to  hear  that,  Ion ;  for  I  see  that  you  will  not 
refuse  to  acquaint  me  with  them. 

Ion.  Certainly,  Socrates  ;  and  you  ought  to  hear  my  embellish 
ments  of  Homer.  I  think  that  the  Homeridae  should  give  me 
a  golden  crown  as  a  reward  for  them. 

Soc.  I   shall   take  an  opportunity  of  hearing  them    at   some 
future  time.     But  just  now  I  should  like  to  ask  you  a  question  :  53 * 
Does  your  art  extend  to  Hesiod  and  Archilochus,  or  to  Homer 

Ion.  To  Homer  only ;  and  that  appears  to  me  to  be  quite 

Soc.  Are  there  any  things  about  which  Homer  and  Hesiod 
agree  ? 

Ion.  Yes  ;  I  am  of  opinion  that  there  are  a  good  many. 

Soc.  And  can  you  interpret  better  what  Homer  says,  or  what 
Hesiod  says,  about  these  matters  in  which  they  agree? 

Ion.  I  can  interpret  them  equally  well,  Socrates,  where  they 

Soc.  But  what  about  matters  in  which  they  do  not  agree? — 
for  example,  about  divination,  of  which  both  Homer  and  Hesiod 
have  something  to  say. 

Ion.  Very  true. 

Soc.  Would  you  or  a  good  prophet  be  a  better  interpreter  of 
what  these  two  poets  say  about  divination,  not  only  when  they 
agree,  but  when  they  disagree? 

Ion.  A  prophet. 

Soc.  And  if  you  were  a  prophet,  would  you  not  be  able  to 
interpret  them  when  they  disagree  as  well  as  when  they  agree  ? 

Ion.  Clearly. 

Soc.  But  how  did  you  come  to  have  this  skill  about  Homer 
only,  and  not  about  Hesiod  or  the  other  poets?  Does  not  Homer 
speak  of  the  same  themes  which  all  other  poets  handle  ?  Is  not 
war  his  great  argument?  and  does  he  not  speak  of  human 
society  and  of  intercourse  of  men,  good  and  bad,  skilled  and 
unskilled,  and  of  the  gods  conversing  with  one  another  and  with 

ION.  245 

mankind,  and  about  what  happens  in  heaven  and  in  the  world 
below,  and  the  generations  of  gods  and  heroes?     Are  not  these 
the  themes  of  which  Homer  sings? 
Ion.  Very  true,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  do  not  the  other  poets  sing  of  the  same  ? 
Ion.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  but  not  in  the  same  way  as  Homer. 
Soc.  What,  in  a  worse  way? 
Ion.  Yes,  in  a  far  worse. 
Soc.  And  Homer  is  better? 
Ion.  He  is  incomparably  better. 

Soc.  And  yet  surely,  my  dear  friend  Ion,  in  a  discussion  about 
arithmetic,    where    many    people    are    speaking,    and    some    one 
person  speaks  better  than  the  rest,  any  one  can  judge  who  is  the 
good  speaker? 
Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  he  who  judges  of  the  good  will  be  the  same  as  he 
who  judges  of  the  bad  speakers? 
Ion.  The  same. 

Soc.  And  he  will  be  the  arithmetician? 
Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  Well,  and  in  discussions  about  the  wholesomeness  of  food, 
when  many  persons  are  speaking,  and  one  speaks  better  than  the 
rest,  will  he  who  recognizes  the  better   speaker  be  a   different 
person  from  him  who  recognizes  the  worse,  or  the  same  ? 
Ion.  Clearly  the  same. 

Soc.  And  who  is  he,  and  what  is  his  name? 
Ion.  The  physician. 

Soc.  And   speaking  generally,  in  all  discussions  in  which  the 
subject  is  the  same  and  many  men  are  speaking,  will  not  he  who 
532  knows  the  good  know  the  bad  speaker  also?    For  if  he  does  not 
know  the  bad,  neither  will  he  know  the  good. 
Ion.  True. 

Soc.  Is  not  the  same  person  skilful  in  both? 
Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  you  say  that  Homer  and  the  other  poets,  such  as 
Hesiod  and  Archilochus,  speak  of  the  same  things,  although  not 
in  the  same  way;  but  the  one  speaks  well  and  the  other* not 

Ion.  Yes  ;  and  I  am  right  in  saying  that. 

246  ION. 

Soc.  And  if  you  knew  the  good  speaker,  you  would  also  know 
of  the  inferior  speakers  that  they  are  inferior  ? 

Ion.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  Then,  my  dear  friend,  can  I  be  mistaken  in  saying  that 
Ion  is  equally  skilled  in  Homer  and  in  other  poets,  since  he 
himself  acknowledges  that  the  same  person  will  be  a  good  judge 
of  all  those  who  speak  of  the  same  things ;  and  that  almost  all 
poets  do  speak  of  the  same  things  ? 

Ion.  What  then,  Socrates,  is  the  reason  why  I  lose  attention 
and  go  to  sleep  and  have  absolutely  no  ideas,  when  any  one 
speaks  of  any  other  poet ;  but  when  Homer  is  mentioned,  I 
wake  up  at  once  and  am  all  attention  and  have  plenty  to  say  ? 

Soc.  That,  my  friend,  is  easily  explained.  No  one  can  fail  to 
see  that  you  speak  of  Homer  without  any  art  or  knowledge.  If 
/you  were  able  to  speak  of  him  by  rules  of  art,  you  would  have 
j  been  able  to  speak  of  all  other  poets  ;  for  poetry  is  a  whole. 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  when  any  one  acquires  any  other  art  as  a  whole,  the 
same  may  be  said  of  them.  Would  you  like  me  to  explain  my 
meaning,  Ion  ? 

Ion.  Yes,  indeed,  Socrates ;  I  wish  that  you  would  :  for  I  love 
to  hear  you  wise  men  talk. 

Soc.  O  that  we  were  wise,  Ion,  and  that  you  could  truly  call 
us  so ;  but  indeed  you  rhapsodes  and  actors,  and  the  poets  whose 
verses  you  sing,  are  wise ;  and  I  am  a  common  man,  who  only 
speak  the  truth.  For  consider  what  a  very  common  and  trivial 
thing  this  is,  which  I  have  said— a  thing  which  any  man  might 
say  :  that  when  a  man  has  acquired  a  knowledge  of  a  whole  art, 
the  enquiry  into  good  and  bad  is  one  and  the  same.  Let  us 
think  about  this  ;  is  not  the  art  of  painting  a  whole  ? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  there  are  and  have  been  many  painters  good  and 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And   did   you   ever  know  any   one  who  was  skilful   in 
pointing  out  the  excellences  and  defects  of  Polygnotus  the  son 
of  Aglaophon,  but  incapable  of  criticizing  other  painters ;  and  533 
when  the  work  of  any  other  painter  was  produced,  went  to  sleep 
and  was  at  a  loss,  and  had  no  ideas ;  but  when  he  had  to  give 

ION.  247 

his  opinion  about  Polygnotus,  or  whoever  the  painter  might  be, 
woke  up  and  was  attentive  and  had  plenty  to  say . 
Ion.  No  indeed,  I  never  did. 

Sec    Or  did  you  ever  know  of  any  one  in  sculpture,  wh< 
skilful  in  expounding  the  merits  of  Daedalus  the  son  of  Met, 
or  of  Epeius  the  son  of  Panopcus,  or  of  Thcodorus  the  Sarnian 
or  of  some  other  individual   sculptor;    but  when   the  work, 
other  sculptors  were  produced,  was  at  a  loss  and  went 
and  had  nothing  to  say? 

Ion.  No  indeed,  I  never  did. 

Sec   And  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  you  never  met  with  any  . 
among  flute-players  or  harp-players  or  singers  to   the  harp 
rhapsodes  who  was  able  to  discourse  of  Olympus  or  Thamyras 
or  Orpheus,  or  Phemius   the  rhapsode  of  Ithaca,  but  was  at  a 
loss  when  he  came  to  speak  of  Ion  of  Ephesus,  and   had 
notion  of  his  merits  or  defects  ? 

Ion.  I  cannot  deny  that,  Socrates.     Nevertheless  I  am   con 
scious  in   my   own    self,  and   the  general   opinion  is   that 
speak  better  and    have   more   to   say   about    Homer  than  any 
other  man.     But  I  do  not  speak  equally  well  about  others- 
me  the  reason  of  this  ? 

Sec.  I  perceive,  Ion;   and  I  will  proceed  to  explain  to  yo- 
what  I  imagine  to  be  the  reason  of  this.     The  gift  which  you 
possess  of  speaking  excellently  about  Homer  is  not  an  art,  b 
as  I  was  just  saying,  an  inspiration;  there  is  a  divinity  moving 
you,  like  that  in  the  stone  which  Euripides  calls  a  magnet,  bu 
which  is  commonly  known  as  the  stone  of  Heraclea. 
stone  not  only  attracts  iron  rings,  but  also  imparts  to  the, 
similar  power  of  attracting  other  rings;  and  sometimes  you 
see  a  number  of  pieces  of  iron  and  rings   suspended  from 
another  so  as  to  form  quite  a  long  chain  :  and  all  of  them  cenve 
their  power  of  suspension  from  the  original  stone.     Now  t 
like  the  Muse,  who  first  of  all  inspires  men  herself;  and 
these  inspired   persons  a  chain   of  other  persons  is  suspend* 
who  take  the  inspiration  from  then,.     For  all  good  pocb 
as  well  as  lyric,  compose  their  beautiful  poems  not  as  wo 
art,  but  because  they  arc  inspired  and  possessed. 
534Corybantian   revellers  when   they   dance  are  not  in  th« 

mind,  so  the  lyric  poets  arc  not  in  their  right  mmd  when  they 

248  ION. 

are  composing  their  beautiful  strains :    but  when   falling  under 
the  power  of  music  and  metre  they  are  inspired  and  possessed  ; 
like  Bacchic  maidens  who  draw  milk  and  honey  from  the  rivers,' 
when  they  are  under  the  influence  of  Dionysus,  but  not  when 
they  are  in  their  right  mind.    And  the  soul  of  the  lyric  poet  does 
the  same,  as  they  themselves  tell  us  ;   for  they  tell  us  that  they 
bring  songs  from  honied  fountains,  culling  them  out  of  the  gar 
dens  and  dells  of  the  Muses ;  whither,  like  the  bees,  they  wing  their 
way.    And  this  is  true.     For  the  poet  is  a  light  and  winged  and 
holy  thing,  and  there  is  no  invention  in  him  until  he  has  been 
inspired  and  is  out  of  his  senses,  and  the  mind  is  no  longer  in 
him  :^  when   he  has   not  attained   to   this   state,  he  is  powerless 
and  is  unable  to  utter  his  oracles.     Many  are  the  noble  words  in 
which  poets  speak  of  the  actions  which  they  record,  like  your  own 
words  about  Homer ;    but  they  do  not  speak  of  them  by  any 
rules  of  art :  they  arc  inspired  to  utter  that  to  which  the  Muse 
impels  them,  and  that  only  ;  and  when  inspired,  one  of  them  will 
make    dithyrambs,    another    hymns    of   praise,    another    choral 
strains,  another  epic  or  iambic  verses— and  he  who  is  good  at 
one  is  not  good  at  any  other  kind  of  verse :  for  not  by  art  does 
the  poet  sing,  but  by  power  divine.     Had  he  learned  by  rules 
of  art,  he  would  have  known  how  to   speak   not  of  one  theme 
only,  but  of  all ;    and  therefore  God  takes  away  the  minds  of 
poets,  and  uses  them  as  his  ministers,  as  he  also  uses  diviners 
and  holy  prophets,  in  order  that  we  who  hear  them  may  know 
that   they  speak   not   of  themselves   who   utter  these   priceless 
words    in    a    state   of    unconsciousness,    but    that    God    is    the 
speaker,  and  that  through  them  he  is  conversing  with  us.     And 
Tynnichus  the  Chalcidian  affords  a  striking  instance  of  what  I 
am  saying  :    he  wrote  nothing  that  any  one  would  care  to  re 
member  but  the  famous  paean  which  is  in  every  one's  mouth,  one 
of  the  finest  poems  ever  written,  and  truly  an  invention  of  the 
Muses,  as  he  himself  says.    For  in  this  way  the  God  would  seem 
to  indicate  to  us  and  not  allow  us  to  doubt  that  these  beautiful 
poems  are  not  human,  or  the  work  of  man,  but  divine  and  the 
work  of  God  ;  and  that  the  poets  are  only  the   interpreters  of 
the  Gods  by  whom  they  are  severally  possessed.  Was  not  this  the 
lesson  which  the  God  intended  to  teach  when  by  the  mouth  of  the 
worst  of  poets  he  sang  the  best  of  songs  ?    Am  I  not  right,  Ion  ?    535 

ION.  249 

Ion.  Yes,  indeed,  Socrates,  I  feel  that  you  are  ;  for  your  words 
touch  my  soul,  and  I  am  persuaded  somehow  that  good  poets 
are  the  inspired  interpreters  of  the  Gods. 

Soc.  And  you  rhapsodists  are  the  interpreters  of  the  poets  ? 
Ion.  That  again  is  true. 

Soc.  Then  you  are  the  interpreters  of  interpreters  ? 
Ion.  Precisely. 

Soc.  I  wish  you  would  frankly  tell  me,  Ion,  what  I  am  going 
to  ask  of  you  :  When  you  produce  the  greatest  effect  upon  the 
audience  in  the  recitation  of  some  striking  passage,  such  as 
the  apparition  of  Odysseus  leaping  forth  on  the  floor,  recognized 
by  the  suitors  and  casting  his  arrows  at  his  feet,  or  the  descrip 
tion  of  Achilles  rushing  at  Hector,  or  the  sorrows  of  An 
dromache,  Hecuba,  or  Priam,— are  you  in  your  right  mind? 
Are  you  not  carried  out  of  yourself,  and  does  not  your  soul  in 
an  ecstasy  seem  to  be  among  the  persons  or  places  of  which  she 
is  speaking,  whether  they  are  in  Ithaca  or  in  Troy  or  whatever 
may  be  the  scene  of  the  poem  ? 

Ion.  That  proof  strikes  home  to  me,  Socrates.  For  I  must 
confess  that  at  the  tale  of  pity  my  eyes  are  filled  with  tears, 
and  when  I  speak  of  horrors,  my  hair  stands  on  end  and  my 
heart  throbs. 

Soc.  Well,  Ion,  and  what  are  we  to  say  of  a  man  who  at  a 
sacrifice  or  festival,  when  he  is  dressed  in  holiday  attire,  and  has 
golden  crowns  upon  his  head,  of  which  nobody  has  robbed  him, 
appears  weeping  or  panic-stricken  in  the  presence  of  more  than 
twenty  thousand  friendly  faces,  when  there  is  no  one  spoiling  or 
wronging  him  ;  — is  he  in  his  right  mind  or  is  he  not? 

Ion.  No  indeed,  Socrates,  I  must  say  that,  strictly  speaking, 
he  is  not  in  his  right  mind. 

Soc.  And  are  you  aware  that  you  produce  similar  effects  on 
most  of  the  spectators  ? 

Ion.  Yes  indeed,  I  am  ;  for  I  look  down  upon  them  from  the 
stage,  and  behold  the  various  emotions  of  pity,  wonder,  stern 
ness,  stamped  upon  their  countenances  when  I  am  speaking  : 
and  I  am  obliged  to  attend  to  them  ;  for  unless  I  make  them 
cry  I  myself  shall  not  laugh,  and  if  I  make  them  laugh,  I  shall 
do  anything  but  laugh  myself  when  the  hour  of  payment 





y  Soc.  Do  you  know  that  the  spectator  is  the  last  of  the  rings 

which,  as  I  am  saying,  receive  the  power  of  the  original  magnet 
from  one  another?  The  rhapsode  like  yourself  and  the  actors 
are  intermediate  links,  and  the  poet  himself  is  the  first  of  them.  536 
Through  all  these  the  God  sways  the  souls  of  men  in  any  di 
rection  which  he  pleases,  and  makes  one  man  hang  down  from 
another.  There  is  also  a  chain  of  dancers  and  masters  and  under- 
masters  of  choruses,  who  are  suspended  at  the  side  from  the 
rings  which  hang  from  the  Muse.  And  every  poet  has  a  Muse 
from  whom  he  is  suspended,  and  by  whom  he  is  said  to  be 
possessed,  which  is  nearly  the  same  thing  ;  for  he  is  taken  pos 
session  of.  And  from  these  first  rings,  which  are  the  poets, 
depend  others,  some  deriving  their  inspiration  from  Orpheus, 
others  from  Musaeus ;  but  the  greater  number  are  possessed 
and  held  by  Homer.  Of  whom,  Ion,  you  are  one,  and  are  pos 
sessed  by  Homer  ;  and  when  any  one  repeats  the  words  of 
another  poet  you  go  to  sleep,  and  know  not  what  to  say;  but 
when  any  one  recites  a  strain  of  Homer  you  wake  up  in  a 
moment,  and  your  soul  leaps  within  you,  and  you  have  plenty 
to  say,  for  not  by  art  or  knowledge  about  Homer  do  you  say  what 
you  say,  but  by  divine  inspiration  and  by  possession  ;  just  as  the 
revellers  too  have  a  quick  perception  of  that  strain  only  which  is 
appropriated  to  the  God  by  whom  they  are  possessed,  and  have 
plenty  of  dances  and  words  for  that,  but  take  no  heed  of  any 
other.  And  you,  Ion,  when  the  name  of  Homer  is  mentioned 
have  plenty  to  say,  and  have  nothing  to  say  of  others.  The 
reason  of  this  is,  that  you  praise  Homer  not  by  art  but  by  divine 
inspiration  :  and  so  your  question  is  answered. 

Ion.  That  is  good,  Socrates  ;  and  yet  I  doubt  whether  you 
will  ever  have  eloquence  enough  to  persuade  me  that  I  praise 
Homer  only  when  I  am  mad  and  possessed  ;  and  if  you  could 
hear  me  speak  of  him  I  am  sure  that  you  would  never  think  that. 

Soc.  I  should  like  very  much  to  hear  you,  but  not  until  you 
have  answered  a  question  which  I  have  to  ask.  On  what  part 
of  Homer  do  you  speak  well? — not  surely  about  every  part? 

Ion.  There  is  no  part,  Socrates,  about  which  I  do  not  speak 
well  :  of  that  I  can  assure  you. 

Soc.  Surely  not  about  things  in  Homer  of  which  you  have 
no  knowledge  ? 

ION.  251 

Ion.  And  what  is  there  in  Homer  of  which  I  have  no  know 
ledge  ? 

Soc.  Why,  does  not  Homer  speak  in  many  passages  about 
537  arts?  For  example,  about  driving  ;  if  I  can  only  remember  the 
lines  I  will  repeat  them. 

Ion.  I  remember,  and  will  repeat  them. 

Soc.  Tell  me  then,  what  Nestor  says  to  Antilochus,  his  son, 
where  he  tells  him  to  be  careful  of  the  bend  at  the  horse  race  in 
honour  of  Patroclus. 

Ion.  '  Bend  gently/  he  says,  '  in  the  polished  chariot  to  the  left  of  them,  and 
give  the  horse  on  the  right  hand  a  touch  of  the  whip,  and  shout — and  at  the 
same  time  slacken  his  rein.  And  when  you  are  at  the  goal,  let  the  left  horse 
draw  near,  yet  so  that  the  nave  of  the  well-wrought  wheel  may  not  even  seem 
to  touch  the  extremity ;  and  keep  from  catching  the  stone.' l 

Soc.  Enough.  Now,  Ion,  will  the  charioteer  or  the  physician 
be  the  better  judge  of  the  propriety  of  these  lines  ? 

Ion.  The  charioteer,  clearly. 

Soc.  And  will  the  reason  be  that  this  is  his  art,  or  will  there 
be  any  other  reason  ? 

Ion.  No,  that  will  be  the  reason. 

Soc.  And  every  art  is  appointed  by  God  to  have  knowledge 
of  a  certain  work  ;  for  that  which  we  know  by  the  art  of  the 
pilot  we  do  not  know  by  the  art  of  medicine  ? 

Ion.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  Nor  do  we  know  by  the  art  of  the  carpenter  that  which 
we  know  by  the  art  of  medicine? 

Ion.   Certainly  not. 

Soc.  And  this  is  true  of  all  the  arts  ;— that  which  we  know 
with  one  art  we  do  not  know  with  the  other?  But  let  me 
ask  a  prior  question  :  You  admit  that  there  arc  differences 
of  arts  ? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  You  would  argue,  as  I  should,  that  when  one  art  is  of 
one  kind  of  knowledge  and  another  of  another,  they  are  dif 
ferent  ? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  Yes  ;  for  surely,  if  the  subject  of  knowledge  were  the 
same,  there  would  be  no  meaning  in  saying  that  the  arts  were 

1   II.  xxiii.  335. 

252  ION. 

different, — if  they  both  gave  the  same  knowledge.  For  example, 
I  know  that  here  are  five  fingers,  and  you  know  the  same.  And 
if  I  were  to  ask  whether  I  and  you  became  acquainted  with 
this  fact  by  the  help  of  the  same  science  of  arithmetic,  you 
would  acknowledge  that  we  did  ? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  Tell  me,  then,  what  I  was  going  to  ask  you  just  now, —  538 
whether  this   holds  universally?      Must  the  same  art  have  the 
same  subject  of  knowledge,  and  any  others  have  other  subjects 
of  knowledge  ? 


Ion.  That  is  my  opinion,  Socrates. 

c.  Then  he  who  has  no  knowledge  of  a  particular  art  will 
ave  no  right  judgment  of  the  sayings  and  doings  of  that  art? 

Ion.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  Then  which  will  be  a  better  judge  of  the  lines  of  Homer 
which  you  were  reciting,  you  or  the  charioteer  ? 

Ion.  The  charioteer. 

Soc.  Why,  yes,  because  you  are  a  rhapsode  and  not  a 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  the  art  of  the  rhapsode  is  different  from  that  of  the 
charioteer  ? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  if  a  different  knowledge,  then  a  knowledge  of  dif 
ferent  matters  ? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  You  know  the  passage  in  which  Hecamede,  the  concu 
bine  of  Nestor,  is  described  as  giving  to  the  wounded  Machaon 
a  posset,  as  he  says, 

'Made  with  Pramnian  wine;  and  she  grated  cheese  of  goat's  milk  with  a 
brazen  knife,  and  at  his  side  placed  an  onion  which  gives  a  relish  to  drink.' J 

Would  you  say  now  that  the  art  of  the  rhapsode  or  the  art 
of  medicine  was  better  able  to  judge  of  these  lines? 
Ion.  The  art  of  medicine. 
Soc.  And  when  Homer  says, 

'  And  she  descended  into  the  deep  like  a  leaden  plummet,  which,  set  in  the 
horn  of  ox  that  ranges  in  the  fields,  rushes  along  carrying  death  among  the 
ravenous  fishes,' — 2 

1  II.  xi.  638,  630.  8  II.  xxiv.  80. 

ION.  253 

will  the  art  of  the  fisherman  or  of  the  rhapsode  be  better  able 
to  judge  of  the  propriety  of  these  lines? 

Ion.  Clearly,  Socrates,  the  art  of  the  fisherman. 

Soc.  Come  now,  suppose  that  you  were  to  say  to  me  :  Since 
you,  Socrates,  are  able  to  assign  different  passages  in  Homer  to 
their  corresponding  arts,  I  wish  that  you  would  tell  me  what 
are  the  passages  of  which  the  excellence  ought  to  be  judged  by 
the  prophet  and  prophetic  art,  and  you  shall  see  how  readily 
and  truly  I  will  answer  you.  For  there  are  many  such  passages, 
particularly  in  the  Odyssee ;  as,  for  example,  the  passage  in 
which  Theocly menus  of  the  house  of  Melampus  says  to  the 

suitors : — 

.Q      'Wretched  men!  what  is  happening  to  you?     Your  heads  and  your  faces 
and  your  limbs  underneath  are  shrouded  in  night;  and  the  voice  of  lamenta 
tion  bursts  forth,  and  your  cheeks  are  wet  with  tears.     And  the  vestibule 
full  and  the  court  is  full,  of  ghosts  descending  into  the  darkness  of  Erebus, 
and  the  sun  has  perished  out  of  heaven,  and  an  evil  mist  is  spread  abroad.'1 

And  there  are  many  such  passages  in  the  Iliad  also  ;  as  for 
example  in  the  description  of  the  battle  near  the  rampart, 
where  he  says  :— 

'As  they  were  eager  to  pass  the  ditch,  there  came  to  them  an  omen:  a 
soaring  eagle,  holding  back  the  people  on  the  left,  bore  a  huge  bloody  dragon 
in  his  talons,  still  living  and  panting  ;  nor  had  he  yet  resigned  the  strife,  for  h 
bent  back  and  smote  the  bird  which  carried  him  on  the  breast  by  the  neck, 
and  he  in  pain  let  him  fall  from  him  to  the  ground  into  the  midst  of  the  mul 
titude.  And  the  eagle,  with  a  cry,  was  borne  afar  on  the  wings  ol 

These  are  the  sort  of  things  which  I  should  say  that  the  pro 
phet  ought  to  consider  and  determine. 

Ion    And  you  are  quite  right,  Socrates,  in  saying  that. 
Soc.  Yes,  Ion,  and  you  are  right  also.    And  as  I  have  selected 
from   the   Iliad   and  Odyssee    for  you   passages  which   descnb 
the  office  of  the  prophet  and  the  physician  and  the  fisherman, 
do  you,  who  know  Homer  so  much  better  than  I  do,  Ion,  scleci 
for  'me   passages  which   relate  to  the   rhapsode  and   the  rhap 
sode's  art,  and  which  the  rhapsode  ought  to  examine  and  judge 
of  better  than  other  men. 

Ion.  All  passages,  I  should  say,  Socrates. 
Soc    Not  all,  Ion,  surely.     Have  you  already  forgotten 
you  were  saying?    A  rhapsode  ought  to  have  a  better  me 
i  Od.  xx.  351-  2  n-xii-200' 

254  ION. 

Ion.  Why,  what  am  I  forgetting?  540 

Soc.  Do  you  not  remember  that  you  declared  the  art  of  the 
rhapsode  to  be  different  from  the  art  of  the  charioteer  ? 

Ion.  Yes,  I  remember. 

Soc.  And  you  admitted  that  being  different  they  would  have 
different  subjects  of  knowledge? 

Ion.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  upon  your  own  showing  the  rhapsode,  and  the  art 
of  the  rhapsode,  will  not  know  everything? 

Ion.  I  dare  say,  Socrates,  that  there  may  be  exceptions. 

Soc.  You  mean  to  say  that  he  will  not  know  the  subjects  of 
the  other  arts.  As  he  does  not  know  all  of  them,  which  of 
them  will  he  know? 

Ion.  He  will  know  what  a  man  ought  to  say  and  what  a 
woman  ought  to  say,  and  what  a  freeman  and  what  a  slave 
ought  to  say,  and  what  a  ruler  and  what  a  subject. 

Soc.  Do  you  mean  that  a  rhapsode  will  know  better  than  the 
pilot  what  the  ruler  of  a  sea-tossed  vessel  ought  to  say  ? 

Ion.    No  :  the  pilot  will  know  that  best. 

Soc.  Or  will  the  rhapsode  know  better  than  the  physician 
what  the  ruler  of  a  sick  man  ought  to  say? 

Ion.    He  will  not. 

Soc.    But  he  will  know  what  a  slave  ought  to  say? 

Ion.    Yes. 

Soc.  Suppose  the  slave  to  be  a  cowherd  ;  the  rhapsode  will 
know  better  than  the  cowherd  what  he  ought  to  say  in  order  to 
soothe  the  infuriated  cows  ? 

Ion.    No,  he  will  not. 

Soc.  But  he  will  know  what  a  spinning-woman  ought  to  say 
about  the  working  of  wool  ? 

Ion.    No. 

Soc.  At  any  rate  he  will  know  what  a  general  ought  to  say 
when  exhorting  his  soldiers? 

Ion.  Yes,  that  is  the  sort  of  thing  which  the  rhapsode  will 

Soc.  Well,  but  is  the  art  of  the  rhapsode  the  art  of  the 
general  ? 

Ion.  I  am  sure  that  I  should  know  what  a  general  ought  to  say. 

Soc.    Why,  yes,  Ion,  because  you  may  possibly  have  a  know- 

ION.  255 

ledge  of  the  general's  art ;  and  you  may  also  have  a  knowledge 
of  horsemanship  as  well  as  of  the  lyre  :  in  that  case  you  would 
know  when  horses  were  well  or  ill  managed.  But  suppose  I 
were  to  ask  you  :  By  the  help  of  which  art,  Ion,  do  you  know 
whether  horses  are  well  managed,  by  your  skill  as  a  horseman 
or  as  a  performer  on  the  lyre — what  would  you  answer? 

Ion.    I  should  reply,  by  my  skill  as  a  horseman. 

Soc.  And  if  you  judged  of  performers  on  the  lyre,  you  would 
admit  that  you  judged  of  them  as  performers  on  the  lyre,  and 
not  as  horsemen  ? 

Ion.   Yes. 

Soc.  And  in  judging  of  the  general's  art,  do  you  judge  of  that 
as  a  general  or  a  rhapsode  ? 

Ion.   That  appears  to  me  to  be  all  one. 

Soc.  What  do  you  mean?  Do  you  mean  to  say  that  the  art 
of  the  rhapsode  and  of  the  general  is  the  same  ? 

Ion.   Yes,  one  and  the  same. 

Soc.    Then  he  who  is  a  good  rhapsode  is  also  a  good  general  ? 

Ion.    Certainly,  Socrates. 

Soc.    And  he  who  is  a  good  general  is  also  a  good  rhapsode? 

Ion.    No  ;  I  do  not  say  that. 

Soc.  But  you  do  say  that  he  who  is  a  good  rhapsode  is  also 
a  good  general  ? 

Ion.    Certainly. 

Soc.  And  you  are  the  best  of  Hellenic  rhapsodes? 

Ion.    Far  the  best,  Socrates. 

Soc.   And  are  you  the  best  general,  Ion? 

Ion.  To  be  sure,  Socrates  ;  and  Homer  was  my  master. 
\\  Soc.  But  then,  Ion,  what  in  the  name  of  goodness  can  be  the 
reason  why  you,  who  are  the  best  of  generals  as  well  as  the 
best  of  rhapsodes  in  all  Hellas,  go  about  as  a  rhapsode  instead 
of  being  a  general  ?  Do  you  think  that  the  Hellenes  want  a 
rhapsode  with  his  golden  crown,  and  do  not  want  a  general? 

Ion.  Why,  Socrates,  the  reason  is,  that  my  countrymen,  the 
Ephesians,  are  the  servants  and  soldiers  of  Athens,  and  do  not 
need  a  general  ;  and  you  and  Sparta  are  not  likely  to  have  me, 
for  you  think  that  you  have  enough  generals  of  your  own. 

Soc.  My  good  Ion,  did  you  never  hear  of  Apollodorus  of 
Cyzicus  ? 

256  ION. 

Ion.   Who  may  he  be  ? 

Soc.  One  who,  though  a  foreigner,  has  often  been  chosen  their 
general  by  the  Athenians :  and  there  is  Phanosthenes  of  Andros, 
and  Heraclides  of  Clazomenae,  whom  they  have  also  appointed 
to  the  command  of  their  armies  and  to  other  offices,  although 
aliens,  after  they  had  shown  their  merit.  And  will  they  not 
choose  Ion  the  Ephesian  to  be  their  general,  and  honour  him,  if 
he  prove  himself  worthy  ?  Were  not  the  Ephesians  originally 
Athenians  ?  and  Ephesus  is  no  mean  city.  But,  indeed,  Ion,  if 
you  are  correct  in  saying  that  by  art  and  knowledge  you  are 
able  to  praise  Homer,  you  do  not  deal  fairly  with  me,  and  after 
all  your  professions  of  knowing  many  glorious  things  about 
Homer,  and  promises  that  you  would  exhibit  them  to  me,  do 
only  deceive  me,  and  will  not  even  explain  at  my  earnest  en 
treaties  what  is  the  art  of  which  you  are  a  master.  You  have 
literally  as  many  forms  as  Proteus  ;  and  now  you  go  all  manner 
of  ways,  twisting  and  turning,  and,  like  Proteus,  become  all 
manner  of  people  at  once,  and  at  last  slip  away  from  me  in  the 
disguise  of  a  general,  in  order  that  you  may  escape  exhibiting 
your  Homeric  lore.  And  if  you  have  art,  then,  as  I  was  saying,  542 
in  falsifying  your  promise  that  you  would  exhibit  Homer,  you 
are  not  dealing  fairly  with  me.  But  if,  as  I  believe,  you  have 
no  art,  but  speak  all  these  beautiful  words  about  Homer  un 
consciously  under  his  inspiring  influence,  then  I  acquit  you  of 
dishonesty,  and  shall  only  say  that  you  are  inspired.  Which  do 
you  prefer  to  be  thought,  dishonest  or  inspired? 

Ion.  There  is  a  great  difference,  Socrates,  between  them  ; 
and  inspiration  is  the  far  nobler  alternative. 

Soc.  Then,  Ion,  I  shall  assume  the  nobler  alternative  ;  and 
attribute  to  you  in  your  praises  of  Homer  inspiration,  and  not 


VOL.  1. 


THIS  Dialogue  begins  abruptly  with  a  question  of  Meno,  who  asks 
'  whether  virtue  can  be  taught/  Socrates  replies  that  he  does  not  as 
yet  know  what  virtue  is,  and  has  never  known  any  one  who  did. 
'  Then  he  cannot  have  met  Gorgias  when  he  was  at  Athens.'  Yes, 
Socrates  had  met  him,  but  he  has  a  bad  memory,  and  has  forgotten 
what  Gorgias  said.  Will  Meno  tell  him  his  own  notion,  which  is 
probably  not  very  different  from  that  of  Gorgias  ?  '  O  yes — nothing 
easier :  there  is  the  virtue  of  a  man,  of  a  woman,  of  an  old  man,  and 
of  a  child ;  there  is  a  virtue  of  every  age  and  state  of  life,  all  of  which 
may  be  easily  described/ 

Socrates  reminds  Meno  that  this  is  only  an  enumeration  of  the  virtues 
and  not  a  definition  of  the  notion  which  is  common  to  them  all.  In 
a  second  attempt  Meno  defines  virtue  to  be  '  the  power  of  command/ 
But  to  this,  again,  exceptions  are  taken.  For  there  must  be  a  virtue  of 
those  who  obey,  as  well  as  of  those  who  command ;  and  the  power  of 
command  must  be  justly  or  not  unjustly  exercised.  Meno  is  very  ready 
to  admit  that  justice  is  virtue  :  '  Would  you  say  virtue  or  a  virtue,  for 
there  are  other  virtues,  such  as  courage,  temperance,  and  the  like ;  just 
as  round  is  a  figure,  and  black  and  white  are  colours,  and  yet  there  are 
other  figures  and  other  colours.  Let  Meno  take  the  examples  of  figure 
and  colour,  and  try  to  define  them/  Meno  confesses  his  inability,  and 
after  a  process  of  interrogation,  in  which  Socrates  explains  to  him  the 
nature  of  a  '  simile  in  multis/  Socrates  himself  defines  figure  as  '  the 
accompaniment  of  colour/  But  some  one  may  object  that  he  does 
not  know  the  meaning  of  the  word  '  colour ;'  and  if  he  is  a  candid 
friend,  and  not  a  mere  disputant,  Socrates  is  willing  to  furnish  him  with 
a  simpler  and  more  philosophical  definition,  into  which  no  disputed  word 

S  2 

26o  MENO. 

is  allowed  to  intrude  :  '  Figure  is  the  limit  of  form.'  Meno  imperiously 
insists  that  he  must  still  have  a  definition  of  colour.  Some  raillery 
follows ;  and  at  length  Socrates  is  induced  to  reply,  '  that  colour  is  the 
effluence  of  form  in  due  proportion  to  the  sight/  This  definition  is 
exactly  suited  to  the  taste  of  Meno,  who  welcomes  the  familiar  language 
of  Gorgias  and  Empedocles.  Socrates  is  of  opinion  that  the  more 
abstract  or  dialectical  definition  of  figure  is  far  better. 

Now  that  Meno  has  been  made  to  understand  the  nature  of  a  general 
definition,  he  answers  in  the  spirit  of  a  Greek  gentleman,  and  in  the 
words  of  a  poet,  '  that  virtue  is  to  delight  in  things  honourable,  and  to 
have  the  power  of  getting  them.'  This  is  a  nearer  approximation  than 
he  has  yet  made  to  a  complete  definition,  and,  regarded  as  a  piece  of 
proverbial  or  popular  morality,  is  not  far  from  the  truth.  But  the 
objection  is  urged,  <  that  the  honourable  is  the  good,'  and  as  every  one 
desires  the  good,  the  point  of  the  definition  is  contained  in  the  last 
words,  'the  power  of  getting  them.'  'And  they  must  be  got  justly  or 
with  justice.'  The  definition  will  then  stand  thus  :  '  Virtue  is  the  power 
of  getting  good  with  justice.'  But  justice  is  a  part  of  virtue,  and  there 
fore  virtue  is  the  getting  of  good  with  a  part  of  virtue.  The  definition 
repeats  the  word  defined. 

Meno  complains  that  the  conversation  of  Socrates  has  the  effect  of  a 
torpedo's  shock  upon  him.  When  he  talks  with  other  persons  he  has 
plenty  to  say  about  virtue;  in  the  presence  of  Socrates,  his  thoughts 
seem  to  desert  him.  Socrates  replies  that  he  is  only  the  cause  of  per 
plexity  in  others,  because  he  is  himself  perplexed.  He  proposes  to 
continue  the  enquiry.  But  how,  asks  Meno,  can  he  enquire  either  into 
what  he  knows  or  into  what  he  does  not  knowjf  This  is  a  sophistical 
puzzle,  which,  as  Socrates  remarks,  saves  a  great  deal  of  trouble  to  him 
who  accepts  it.  But  the  puzzle  has  a  real  difficulty  latent  under  it,  to 
which  Socrates  replies  in  a  figure.  The  difficulty  is  the  origin  of 

He  professes  to  have  heard  from  priests  and  priestesses,  and  from 
the  poet  Pindar,  of  an  immortal  soul  which  is  born  again  and  again 
in  successive  periods  of  existence,  returning  into  this  world  when  she 
has  paid  the  penalty  of  ancient  crime,  and  having  wandered  over  all 
places  of  the  upper  and  under  world,  and  seen  and  known  all  things 
at  one  time  or  other,  is  by  association  out  of  one  thing  capable  of 
recovering  all.  For  nature  is  of  one  kindred ;  and  every  soul  has  a 


seed  or  germ  which  may  be  developed  into  all  knowledge.  The  exist 
ence  of  this  latent  knowledge  is  further  proved  by  the  interrogation  of 
one  of  Meno's  slaves,  who,  in  the  skilful  hands  of  Socrates,  is  made 
to  acknowledge  some  elementary  relations  of  geometrical  figures.  The 
theorem  that  the  square  of  the  diagonal  is  double  the  square  of  the 
side  —  that  famous  discovery  of  primitive  mathematics,  in  honour  of 
which  the  legendary  Pythagoras  is  said  to  have  sacrificed  a  hecatomb — 
is  elicited  from  him.  The  first  step  in  the  process  of  teaching  has 
made  him  conscious  of  his  own  ignorance.  He  has  had  the  '  torpedo's 
shock '  given  him,  and  is  the  better  for  the  operation.  But  whence  had 
the  uneducated  man  this  knowledge  ?  He  had  never  learnt  geometry 
in  this  world ;  nor  was  it  born  with  him  ;  he  must  therefore  have  had 
it  when  he  was  not  a  man.  And  as  he  always  either  was  or  \vas  not  a 
man,  he  must  have  always  had  it.  (Cp.  Phaedo,  73  B.) 

After  Socrates  has  given  this  specimen  of  the  true  nature  of  teach 
ing,  the  original  question  of  the  teachableness  of  virtue  is  renewed. 
Again  he  professes  a  desire  to  know  '  what  virtue  is '  first.  But  he 
is  willing  to  argue  the  question,  as  mathematicians  say,  under  an  hypo 
thesis.  He  will  assume  that  if  virtue  is  knowledge,  then  virtue  can  be 
taught.  (This  was  the  stage  of  the  argument  at  which  the  Prota 
goras  concluded.) 

Socrates  has  no  difficulty  in  showing  that  virtue  is  a  good,  and  that 
goods,  whether  of  body  or  mind,  must  be  under  the  direction  of  know 
ledge.  Upon  the  assumption  just  made,  then,  virtue  is  teachable.  But 
where  are  the  teachers?  There  are  none  found.  This  is  extremely 
discouraging.  Virtue  is  no  sooner  discovered  to  be  teachable,  than 
the  discovery  follows  that  it  is  not  taught.  Virtue,  therefore,  is  and 
is  not  teachable. 

In  this  dilemma  an  appeal  is  made  to  Anytus,  a  respectable  and 
well-to-do  citizen  of  the  old  school,  who  happens  to  be  present.  He 
is  asked  '  whether  Meno  shall  go  to  the  Sophists  and  be  taught/  The 
very  suggestion  of  this  throws  him  into  a  rage.  '  To  whom,  then,  shall 
Meno  go?'  asks  Socrates.  To  any  Athenian  gentleman — to  the  great 
Athenian  statesmen  of  past  times.  Socrates  replies  here,  as  elsewhere 
(Laches,  179  C  foil.;  Prot.  319  foil.),  that  Themistocles,  Pericles,  and 
other  great  men,  never  taught  their  sons  anything  worth  learning ;  and 
they  would  surely,  if  they  could,  have  imparted  to  them  their  own  poli 
tical  wisdom.  Anytus  is  angry  at  the  imputation  which  is  cast  on  his 

262  MENO. 

favourite  statesmen,  and  on  a  class  to  which  he  supposes  himself  to 
belong  (cp.  95  A),  and  breaks  off  with  a  significant  hint.  The  mention 
of  another  opportunity  of  talking  with  him  (99  E),  and  the  suggestion 
that  Meno  may  do  the  Athenian  people  a  service  by  pacifying  him,  are 
evident  allusions  to  the  trial  of  Socrates. 

Socrates  returns  to  the  consideration  of  the  question  '  whether  virtue 
is  teachable/  which  was  denied  on  the  ground  that  there  are  no  teachers 
of  it :  (for  the  Sophists  are  bad  teachers,  and  the  rest  of  the  world  do 
not  profess  to  teach).  But  there  is  another  point  which  we  failed  to 
observe,  and  in  which  Gorgias  has  never  instructed  Meno,  nor  Prodicus 
Socrates.  This  is  the  nature  of  right  opinion.  For  virtue  may  be  under 
the  guidance  of  right  opinion  as  well  as  of  knowledge ;  and  right  opinion 
is  for  practical  purposes  as  good  as  knowledge,  but  is  incapable  of 
kej[n£vtau£h^  off/  because  not  bound  by 

the  tie  of  the  cause.  This  is  the  sort  of  instinct  which  is  possessed 
by  statesmen,  who  are  not  wise  or  knowing  persons,  but  only  inspired 
or  divine.  The., higher  virtue,  which  is  identical  with  knowledge,  is  an 
ideal  only.  If  the  statesman  had  this  knowledge,  and  could  teach  what 
he  knew,  he  would  be  like  Tiresias  in  the  world  below, — '  he  alone 
would  have  wisdom,  while  the  rest  flit  as  shadows/ 

This  Dialogue  is  an  attempt  to  answer  the  question,  Can  virtue  be 
taught  ?  No  one  would  either  ask  or  answer  such  a  question  in  modern 
times.  But  in  the  age  of  Socrates  it  was  only  by  an  effort  that  the 
mind  could  rise  to  a  general  notion  of  virtue  as  distinct  from  the  par 
ticular  virtues  of  courage,  liberality,  and  the  like.  And  when  a  hazy 
conception  of  this  ideal  was  attained,  it  was  only  by  a  further  effort  that 
the  question  of  the  teachableness  of  virtue  could  be  resolved. 

The  answer  which  is  given  by  Plato  is  paradoxical  enough,  and 
seems  rather  intended  to  stimulate  than  to  satisfy  enquiry.  Virtue  is 
knowledge,  and  therefore  virtue  can  be  taught.  But  virtue  is  not 
taught,  and  therefore  in  this  higher  and  ideal  sense  there  is  no  virtue 
and  no  knowledge.  The  teaching  of  the  Sophists  is  confessedly  inade 
quate,  and  Meno,  who  is  their  pupil,  is  ignorant  of  the  very  nature 
of  general  terms.  He  can  only  produce  out  of  their  armoury  the 
sophism,  '  that  you  can  neither  enquire  into  what  you  know  nor  into 
what  you  do  not  know ;'  to  which  Socrates  replies  by  his  theory  of 


To  the  doctrine  that  virtue  is.  knowledge,  Plato  has  been  constantly 
tending  in  the  previous  Dialogues.  But  the  new  truth  is  no  sooner 
found  than  it  seems  to  vanish  away.  '  If  there  is  knowledge,  there  must 
be  teachers;  and  where  are  the  teachers?'  There  is  no  knowledge  in 
the  higher  sense  of  systematic,  connected,  reasoned  knowledge,  such 
as  may  one  day  be  attained,  and  such  as  Plato  himself  seems  to  see 
in  some  far  off  vision  of  a  single  science.  And  there  are  no  teachers 
in  the  higher  sense  of  the  word ;  that  is  to  say,  no  real  teachers  who 
will  arouse  the  spirit  of  enquiry  in  their  pupils,  and  not  merely  in 
struct  them  in  rhetoric  or  impart  to  them  ready-made  information 
for  a  fee  of  '  one '  or  of  '  fifty  drachms.'  Plato  is  desirous  of  deepen 
ing  the  notion  of  education,  and  therefore  he  asserts  the  seeming 
paradox  that  there  are  no  educators.  This,  though  somewhat  dif 
ferent  in  form,  is  not  really  different  from  the  remark  which  is  often 
made  in  modern  times  by  those  who  would  depreciate  either  the  methods 
of  education  commonly  employed,  or  the  standard  attained ;  that  '  there 
is  no  true  education  among  us/ 

But  there  is  still  a  possibility  which  must  not  be  overlooked.  Even 
if  there  is  no  knowledge,  as  has  been  proved  by  '  the  wretched  state 
of  education/  there  may  be  right  opinion.  This  is  a  sort  of  guess 
ing  or  divination  which  rests  on  no  knowledge  of  causes,  and  is  in 
communicable  to  others.  This  is  what  our  statesmen  have,  as  is 
proved  by  the  circumstance  that  they  are  unable  to  impart  their 
knowledge  to  others.  Those  who  are  possessed  of  this  gift  cannot  be 
said  to  be  men  of  science  or  philosophers,  but  they  are  inspired  and 
divine.  ' 

There  is  no  trace  of  irony  in  this  curious  passage,  which  forms  the 
concluding  portion  of  the  Dialogue.  Nor  again  does  Plato  mean  to 
intimate  that  the  supernatural  or  divine  is  the  true  basis  of  human  life. 
To  him  knowledge,  if  only  attainable  in  this  world,  is  of  all  things  the 
most  divine.  But,  like  other  philosophers,  he  is  willing  to  admit  that 
1  probability  is  the  guide  of  life  ;'  and  he  is  at  the  same  time  desirous 
of  contrasting  the  wisdom  which  governs  the  world  with  a  higher  wis 
dom.  There  are  many  instincts,  judgments,  and  anticipations  of  the 
human  mind  which  cannot  be  reduced  to  rule,  and  of  which  the 
grounds  cannot  always  be  given  in  words.  A  person  may  have  some 
skill  or  latent  experience  which  he  is  able  to  use  himself  and  is  yet 
unable  to  teach  others,  because  he  has  no  principles,  and  is  incapable 

264  ME  NO. 

of  collecting  or  arranging  his  ideas.  He  has  practice,  but  not  theory  ; 
art,  but  not  science.  This  is  a  true  fact  of  psychology,  which  is  recog 
nized  by  Plato  in  this  passage.  But  he  is  far  from  saying,  as  some 
have  imagined,  that  inspiration  or  divine  grace  is  to  be  regarded  as 
higher  than  knowledge.  He  would  not  have  preferred  the  poet  or  man 
of  action  to  the  philosopher,  or  the  virtue  of  custom  to  the  virtue  based 
upon  ideas. 

Also  here,  as  in  the  Ion  and  Phaedrus,  Plato  appears  to  acknow 
ledge  an  unreasoning  element  in  the  higher  nature  of  man.  The  philo 
sopher  only  has  knowledge,  and  yet  the  statesman  and  the  poet  are 
inspired.  There  may  be  a  sort  of  irony  in  regarding  in  this  way  the 
gifts  of  genius.  But  there  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  he  is  de 
riding  them,  any  more  than  he  is  deriding  the  phenomena  of  love  or 
of  enthusiasm  in  the  Symposium,  or  of  oracles  in  the  Apology,  or  of 
divine  intimations  when  he  is  speaking  of  the  daemonium  of  Socrates. 
He  recognizes  the  lower  form  of  right  opinion,  as  well  as  the  higher 
one  of  science,  in  the  spirit  of  one  who  desires  to  include  in  his  philo 
sophy  every  aspect  of  human  life ;  just  as  he  recognizes  the  exist 
ence  of  popular  opinion  as  a  fact,  and  the  Sophists  as  the  expression 
of  it.  j 

Tnis  Dialogue  contains  the  first  intimation  of  the  doctrine  of  remi 
niscence  and  of  the  immortality  of  the  soul.  The  proof  is  very  slight, 
even  slighter  than  in  the  Phaedo  and  Republic.  Because  men  had 
abstract  ideas  in  a  previous  state,  they  must  have  always  had  them,  and 
their  souls  therefore  must  have  always  existed  (86  A).  For  they  must 
always  have  been  either  men  or  not  men.  The  fallacy  of  the  latter  words 
is  transparent.  And  Socrates  himself  appears  to  be  conscious  of  their 
weakness ;  for  he  adds  immediately  afterwards,  '  I  have  said  some 
things  of  which  I  am  not  altogether  confident.'  (Cp.  Phaedo,  1 1 4  D, 
115  D.)  It  may  be  observed,  however,  that  the  fanciful  notion  of  pre- 
existence  is  combined  with  a  true  but  partial  view  of  the  origin  and 
unity  of  knowledge,  and  of  the  association  of  ideas.  Knowledge  is 
prior  to  any  particular  knowledge,  existing  not  in  the  previous  state 
of  the  individual,  but  of  the  race.  It  is. potential,  not  actual,  and  can 
only  be  recovered  by  strenuous  exertion. 

The  idealism  of  Plato  is  here  presented  in  a  less  developed  form, 
than  in  the  Phaedo  and  Phaedrus.  Nothing  is  said  of  the  pre-exist- 
ence  of  ideas  of  justice,  temperance,  and  the  like.  Nor  is  Socrates 


positive  of  anything  but  the  duty  of  enquiry  (86  B).  The  doctrine  of 
reminiscence  too  is  explained  in  a  manner  more  in  accordance  with 
fact  and  experience  out  of  the  affinities  of  nature  (are  rfs  ^o-ews  oXijs 
avyyevovs  oforjs).  Modern  philosophy  says  that  all  things  in  nature 
are  dependent  on  one  another ;  the  ancient  philosopher  had  the  same 
truth  latent  in  his  mind  when  he  affirmed  that  out  of  one  thing  all  the 
rest  may  be  recovered.  The  subjective  was  converted  by  him  into  an  ob 
jective  ;  the  mental  phenomenon  of  the  association  of  ideas  (cp.  Phaedo, 
73  foil.)  became  a  real  chain  of  existences.  The  germs  of  two  valu 
able  principles  of  education  may  also  be  gathered  from  the  'words 
of  priests  and  priestesses:'  (i)  tl  at  true  knowledge  is  a  knowledge 
of  causes  (cp.  Aristotle's  theory  of  eWr^);  and  (2)  thatjhe  process 
of  learning  consists  not  in  what  is  brought  to  thejearner,  but  in  what 
is  drawn  out  of  him. 

Some  lesser  traits  of  the  dialogue  may  be  noted,  such  as  (i)  the  acute 
observation  that  Meno  prefers  the  familiar  definition,  which  is  embel 
lished,  with  poetical  language,  to   the  better  and  truer  one  (p.  76  D) ; 
or  (2)  the   shrewd  reflection,  which   may  admit   of   an  application   to 
modern  as  well  as  to  ancient  teachers,  that  the  Sophists  having  made 
large    fortunes,    this    must    surely  be   a    criterion    of    their   powers    of 
teaching,  for  that  no  man  could  get  a  living  by  shoemaking  who  was 
not   a  good  shoemaker  (91   C) ;    or  (3)  the   remark   conveyed,  almost 
in   a   word,   that   the    verbal    sceptic    is    saved    the    labour   of  thought 
and    enquiry    (ovfev    del    ™   roiou™    ^njo-ewr,    80    E).      Characteristic 
also  of  the  temper  of  the  Socratic  enquiry  is,  (4)  the  proposal  to  dis 
cuss  the   teachableness   of  virtue  under  an  hypothesis,  after  the  man- 
jaeL-of-  .the.,  mathematicians  Js  7    A);    and   (5)   the    repetition   of  the 
jayourite  dactrine ^  which ^occurs  so  frequently  in  the  earlier  and  more 
S_ocratic  Dialogues,  and  gives  a  colour  to  all  of  them— that  mankind 
only  desire  evil  through  ignorance  (77,  78  foil.);  '(6)  the  experiment  of 
eliciting  from   the   slave-boy  the  mathematical  truth  which  is  latent  in 
him,  and  (7)  the  remark  (p.  84  B)  that  he  is  all  the  better  for  knowing 
his  ignorance. 

The  character  of  Meno,  like  that  of  Critias,  has  no  relation  to  the 
actual  circumstances  of  his  life.  Plato  is  silent  about  his  treachery 
to  the  ten  thousand  Greeks,  which  Xenophon  has  recorded,  as  he  is 
also  silent  about  the  crimes  of  Critias.  He  is  a  Thessalian  Alcibiades, 
rich  and  luxurious— a  spoilt  child  of  fortune,  and  is  described  as  the 

266  MENO. 

hereditary  friend  of  the  great  king.  Like  Alcibiades,  he  is  inspired 
with  an  ardent  desire  of  knowledge,  and  is  equally  willing  to  learn  of 
Socrates  and  of  the  Sophists.  He  may  be  regarded  as  standing  in  the 
same  relation  to  Gorgias  as  Hippocrates  in  the  Protagoras  to  the 
other  great  Sophist.  He  is  the  sophisticated  youth  on  whom  Socrates 
tries  his  cross-examining  powers,  with  a  view  of  exhibiting  him  and 
his  teachers  in  their  true  light,  just  as  in  the  Charmides,  the  Lysis, 
and  the  Euthydemus,  he  makes  ingenuous  boyhood  the  subject  of  a 
similar  experiment.  Meno  is  treated  by  Socrates  in  a  half  playful 
manner  suited  to  his  character;  while  he  tries  to  exhibit  him  to 
himself  and  to  the  reader  as  ignorant  of  the  very  elements  of  dialectics, 
in  which  the  Sophists  have  failed  to  instruct  their  disciple.  His  definition 
of  virtue  as  '  the  power  and  desire  of  attaining  things  honourable/  like 
the  first  definition  of  justice  in  the  Republic,  is  taken  from  a  poet.  His 
answers  have  a  sophistical  ring,  and  at  the  same  time  show  the  sophistical 
incapacity  to  grasp  a  general  notion. 

Anytus  is  the  type  of  the  narrow-minded  man  of  the  world,  who 
is  indignant  at  innovation,  and  equally  detests  the  popular  teacher 
and  the  true  philosopher.  He  seems,  like  Aristophanes,  to  regard 
the  new  opinions,  whether  of  Socrates  or  the  Sophists,  as  fatal  to 
Athenian  greatness.  He  is  of  the  same  class  as  Callicles  in  the  Gor 
gias,  but  of  a  different  variety ;  the  immoral  and  sophistical  doctrines 
of  Callicles  are  not  attributed  to  him.  The  moderation  with  which 
he  is  described  is  remarkable,  if  he  be  the  accuser  of  Socrates ;  and 
this  seems  to  be  indicated  by  his  parting  words.  Perhaps  Plato  may 
have  been  desirous  of  showing  that  the  accusation  of  Socrates  was 
not  to  be  attributed  to  badness  or  malevolence,  but  rather  to  a  ten 
dency  in  men's  minds.  Or  he  may  have  been  regardless  of  the  his 
torical  truth  of  the  characters  of  his  dialogue,  as  in  the  case  of  Meno 
and  Critias.  Like  Chaerephon  (Apol.  21)  the  real  Anytus  was  a 
democrat,  and  had  joined  Thrasybulus  in  the  conflict  with  the  thirty. 

The  Protagoras  arrived  at  a  sort  of  hypothetical  conclusion,  that  if 
'virtue  is  knowledge,  it  can  be  taught/  In  the  Euthydemus,  Socrates 
himself  offered  an  example  of  the  manner  in  which  ingenuous  youth 
should  be  taught ;  this  was  in  contrast  to  the  quibbling  follies  of  the 
Sophists.  In  the  Meno  the  subject  is  more  developed;  the  founda 
tions  of  the  enquiry  are  laid  deeper,  and  the  nature  of  knowledge  is 
more  distinctly  explained.  There  is  a  sort  of  progression  by  antai- 


gonism  of  two  opposite  aspects  of  philosophy.  But  at  the  moment 
when  we  approach  nearest,  the  truth  doubles  upon  us  and  is  again 
beyond  our  reach.  We  seem  to  find  that  the  ideal  of  knowledge  is 
irreconcilable  with  experience.  In  human  life  there  is  indeed  the 
profession  of  knowledge,  but  right  opinion  is  our  actual  guide.  There 
is  another  sort  of  progress  from  the  general  notions  of  Socrates,  who 
asked  simply,  '  what  is  friendship  ? '  '  what  is  temperance  ? '  '  what 
is  courage  ?'  as  in  the  Lysis,  Charmides,  Laches,  to  the  transcen 
dentalism  of  Plato,  who,  in  the  second  stage  of  his  philosophy, 
sought  to  find  the  nature  of  knowledge  in  a  prior  and  future  state 
of  existence. 

'The  difficulty  in  framing  general  notions  which  has  appeared  in 
this  and  in  all  the  previous  Dialogues  recurs  in  the  Gorgias  and 
Theaetetus  as  well  as  in  the  Republic.  In  the  Gorgias  too  the  states 
men  reappear,  but  in  stronger  opposition  to  the  philosopher.  They 
are  no  longer  allowed  to  have  a  divine  insight,  but,  though  acknow 
ledged  to  have  been  clever  men  and  good  speakers,  are  denounced 
as  '  blind  leaders  of  the  blind.'  The  doctrine  of  the  immortality  of 
the  soul  is  also  carried  further,  being  made  the  foundation  not  only 
of  a  Iheory  of  knowledge,  but  of  a  doctrine  _pf  rewards  and  punish- 
ments^  In  the  Republic  the  relation  of  knowledge  to  virtue  is  de4 
scribed  in  a  manner  more  consistent  with  modern  distinctions.  The 
existence  of  the  virtues  without  the  possession  of  knowledge  in  the 
higher  or  philosophical  sense,  is  admitted  to  be  possible.  Right 
opinion  is  again  introduced  in  the  Theaetetus  as  an  account  of  know 
ledge,  but  is  rejected  on  the  ground  that  it  is  irrational  (as  here, 
because  it  is  not  bound  by  the  tie  of  the  cause),  and  also  because 
the  conception  of  false  opinion  is  given  up  as  hopeless.  Such  are 
the  shifting  points  of  view  which  Plato  presents  to  us  in  his  life-long 
effort  to  work  out  the  great  intellectual  puzzle  of  his  age — the  nature 
of  knowledge  and  of  good,  and  their  relation  to  one  another,  and 
to  human  life.  His  doctrines  are  necessarily  different  at  different 
times  of  his  life,  as  new  distinctions  are  realized,  or  new  stages  of 
thought  attained  by  him.  We  are  not  therefore  justified,  in  order  to 
take  away  the  appearance  of  inconsistency,  in  attributing  to  him 
hidden  meanings  or  remote  allusions. 

There  are  no  external  criteria  by  which  we  can  determine  the  date 
of  the  Meno.     There  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  any  of  the  Dialogues 

268  MENO. 

of  Plato  were  written  before  the  death  of  Socrates;  the  Meno,  which 
appears  to  be  one  of  the  earliest  of  them,  is  proved  to  have  been  of 
a  later  date  by  the  allusion  of  Anytus. 

We  cannot  argue  that  Plato  was  more  likely  to  have  written,  as 
he  has  done,  of  Meno  before  than  after  his  miserable  death ;  for  we 
have  already  seen,  in  the  examples  of  Charmides  and  Critias,  that  the 
characters  in  Plato  are  very  far  from  resembling  the  same  characters 
in  history.  The  repulsive  picture  which  is  given  of  him  in  the 
Anabasis  of  Xenophon  (ii.  6),  where  he  also  appears  as  the  friend 
of  Aristippus  <  and  a  fair  youth  having  lovers/  has  no  other  trait  of 
likeness  to  the  Meno  of  Plato. 

The  place  of  the  Meno  in  the  series  is  doubtfully  indicated  by 
internal  evidence.  The  main  character  of  the  Dialogue  is  Socrates; 
but  to  the  'general  definitions'  of  Socrates  is  added  the  Platonic 
doctrine  of  reminiscence.  The  problems  of  virtue  and  knowledge 
have  been  discussed  in  the  Lysis,  Laches,  Charmides,  and  Protagoras; 
the  puzzle  about  knowing  and  learning  has  already  appeared  in  the 
Euthydemus.  The  doctrines  of  immortality  and  pre-existence  are  car 
ried  further  in  the  Phaedo  and  Phaedrus;  the  distinction  between 
opinion  and  knowledge  is  now  fully  developed  in  the  Theaetetus.  The 
ressons  of  Prodicus,  whom  he  facetiously  calls  his  master,  are  still 
running  in  the  mind  of  Socrates.  Unlike  the  later  Platonic  Dialogues, 
the  Meno  arrives  at  no  conclusion.  Hence  we  are  led  to  place  the 
Dialogue  at  some  point  in  the  series  later  than  the  Protagoras,  and 
earlier  than  the  Phaedrus  and  Gorgias. 

M  EN  O. 



Mcno.  CAN  you  tell  me,  Socrates,  whether  virtue  is  acquired 
by  teaching  or  by  practice  ;  or  if  neither  by  teaching  nor  by 
practice,  then  whether  it  comes  to  man  by  nature,  or  in  what 
other  way? 

Socrates.  O  Meno,  there  was  a  time  when  the  Thessalians 
were  famous  among  the  other  Hellenes  only  for  their  riches 
and  their  riding;  but  now,  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  they  are 
equally  famous  for  their  wisdom,  especially  at  Larisa,  which  is 
the  native  city  of  your  friend  Aristippus.  And  this  is  Gorgias' 
doing  ;  for  when  he  came  there,  the  flower  of  the  Aleuadae,  of 
whom  your  lover  Aristippus  is  one,  and  the  other  chiefs  of  the 
Thessalians,  fell  in  love  with  his  wisdom.  And  he  has  taught 
you  the  habit  of  answering  questions  in  a  grand  and  bold  style, 
which  becomes  those  who  know,  and  is  the  style  in  which  he 
himself  answers  all  comers  ;  and  any  Hellene  who  likes  may 
Steph.ask  him  anything.  How  different  is  our  lot!  my  dear  Meno. 
71  Here  at  Athens  there  is  a  dearth  of  the  commodity,  and  all 
wisdom  seems  to  have  emigrated  from  us  to  you.  I  am  cer 
tain  that  if  you  were  to  ask  any  Athenian  whether  virtue  was 
natural  or  acquired,  he  would  laugh  in  your  face,  and  say : 
Stranger,  you  have  far  too  good  an  opinion  of  me  ;  if  I  were 
inspired  I  might  answer  your  question.  But  now  I  literally 
do  not  know  what  virtue  is,  and  much  less  whether  it  is 
acquired  by  teaching  or  not.  And  I  myself,  Meno,  living  as  I 

270  ME  NO. 

do  in  this  region  of  poverty,  am  as  poor  as  the  rest  of  the  citi 
zens  ;  and  I  confess  with  shame  that  I  know  literally  nothing 
about  virtue  ;  and  when  I  do  not  know  the  'quid'  of  anything 
how  can  I  know  the  'quale'?  How,  if  I  knew  nothing  at  all 
of  Meno,  could  I  tell  if  he  was  fair,  or  the  opposite  of  fair  ;  rich 
and  noble,  or  the  reverse  of  rich  and  noble  ?  Do  you  think  that 
I  could  ? 

Men.  No,  indeed.  But  are  you  in  earnest,  Socrates,  in  saying 
that  you  do  not  know  what  virtue  is  ?  And  am  I  to  carry  back 
this  report  of  you  to  Thessaly  ? 

Soc.  Not  only  that,  my  dear  boy,  but  you  may  say  further 
that  I  have  never  known  of  any  one  else  who  did,  in  my 

Men.  Then  you  have  never  met  Gorgias  when  he  was  at 
Athens  ? 

Soc.  Yes,  I  have. 

Men.  And  did  you  not  think  that  he  knew  ? 

Soc.  I  have  not  a  good  memory,  Meno,  and  therefore  I  cannot 
now  tell  what  I  thought  of  him  at  the  time.  And  I  dare  say 
that  he  did  know,  and  that  you  know  what  he  said  :  please, 
therefore,  to  remind  me  of  what  he  said  ;  or,  if  you  would  rather, 
tell  me  your  own  view,  for  I  suspect  that  you  and  he  think 
much  alike. 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  Then  as  he  is  not  here,  never  mind  him,  and  do  you 
tell  me.  By  the  gods,  Meno,  be  generous,  and  tell  me  what 
you  say  that  virtue  is  ;  for  I  shall  be  truly  delighted  to  find 
that  I  have  been  mistaken,  and  that  you  and  Gorgias  do  really 
know  this  ;  although  I  have  been  saying  that  I  have  never  found 
anybody  who  knew. 

Men.  There  will  be  no  difficulty,  Socrates,  in  answering  your 
question.  Take  first  the  virtue  of  a  man — he  should  know  how 
to  administer  the  state,  in  the  administration  of  which  he  will 
benefit  his  friends  and  damage  his  enemies,  and  will  take  care 
not  to  suffer  damage  himself.  A  woman's  virtue  may  also  be 
easily  described  :  her  duty  is  to  order  her  house,  and  keep  what 
is  indoors,  and  obey  her  husband.  Every  age,  every  condition 
of  life,  young  or  old,  male  or  female,  bond  or  free,  has  a 
different  virtue:  there  are  virtues  numberless,  and  no  lack  of  72 

MENO.  27 

definitions  of  them  ;  for  virtue  is  relative  to  the  actions  and 
ages  of  each  of  us  in  all  that  we  do.  And  the  same  may  be 
said  of  vice,  Socrates. 

Soc.  How  fortunate  I  am,  Meno !  When  I  ask  you  for  one 
virtue,  you  present  me  with  a  swarm  of  them,  which  are  in 
your  keeping.  Suppose  that  I  carry  on  the  figure  of  the  swarm, 
and  ask  of  you,  What  is  the  nature  of  the  bee?  and  you  an 
swer  that  there  are  many  kinds  of  bees,  and  I  reply :  But  do 
bees  differ  as  bees,  because  there  are  many  and  different  kinds 
of  them  ;  or  are  they  not  rather  to  be  distinguished  by  some 
other  quality,  as  for  example  beauty,  size,  or  shape?  How 
would  you  answer  me  ? 

Men.  I  should  answer  that  bees  do  not  differ  from  one  an 
other,  as  bees. 

Soc.  And  suppose  that  I  went  on  to  say :  That  is  what  I 
want  to  know,  Meno ;  tell  me  what  is  that  quality  in  which 
they  do  not  differ,  but  are  all  alike;  —  you  would  be  able  to 
answer  ? 

Men.  I  should. 

Soc.  And  so  of  the  virtues,  however  many  and  different  they 
may  be,  they  have  all  a  common  nature  which  makes  them 
virtues  ;  and  on  this  he  who  would  answer  the  question,  '  Wliat 
is  virtue?'  would  do  well  to  have  his  eye  fixed.  Do  you  un 
derstand  ? 

Men.  I  am  beginning  to  understand  ;  but  I  do  not  as  yet 
take  hold  of  the  question  as  I  could  wish. 

Soc.  When  you  say,  Meno,  that  there  is  one  virtue  of  a  man, 
another  of  a  woman,  another  of  a  child,  and  so  on  ;  does  this 
apply  only  to  virtue,  or  would  you  say  the  same  of  health,  and 
size,  and  strength  ?  Or  is  the  nature  of  health  always  the  same, 
whether  in  man  or  woman  ? 

Men.  I  should  say  that  health  is  the  same,  whether  of  man 
or  woman. 

Soc.  And  is  not  this  true  of  size  and  strength  ?  If  a  woman 
is  strong,  she  will  be  strong  by  reason  of  the  same  form  and  of 
the  same  strength  subsisting  in  her  which  there  is  in  the  man. 
I  mean  to  say  that  strength,  as  strength,  whether  of  man  or 
woman,  is  the  same.  Is  there  any  difference? 
Men.  I  think  not. 

272  ME  NO. 

Soc.  And   will    not  virtue,   as   virtue,   be   the  same,   whether  73 
in   a   child   or   in   a   grown    up   person,    in   a    woman    or  in    a 

Men.  I  cannot  help  feeling,  Socrates,  that  this  case  is  not  like 
the  others. 

Soc.  Why?  Were  you  not  saying  that  the  virtue  of  a  man 
was  to  order  a  state,  and  the  virtue  of  a  woman  was  to  order  a 
house  ? 

Men.  I  did  say  that. 

Soc.  And  can  either  house  or  state  or  anything  be  well 
ordered  without  temperance  and  without  justice? 

Men.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  Then  they  who  order  a  state  or  a  house  temperately  or 
justly  order  them  with  temperance  and  justice? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Then  both  men  and  women,  if  they  are  to  be  good  men 
and  women,  must  have  the  same  virtues  of  temperance  and 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  can  either  a  young  man  or  an  old  one  be  good,  if 
they  are  intemperate  and  unjust? 

Men.  They  cannot. 

Soc.  They  must  be  temperate  and  just  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  all  men  are  good  in  the  same  way,  and  by  parti 
cipation  in  the  same  virtues  ? 

Men.  That  is  the  inference. 

Soc.  And  they  surely  would  not  have  been  good  in  the  same 
way,  unless  their  virtue  had  been  the  same  ? 

Men.  They  would  not 

Soc.  Then  now  that  the  sameness  of  all  virtue  has  been 
proven,  try  and  remember  what  you  and  Gorgias  say  that 
virtue  is. 

Men.  Will  you  have  one  definition  of  them  all? 

Soc.  That  is  what  I  am  seeking. 

Men.  What  can  I  say  but  that  virtue  is  the  power  of 
governing  mankind? 

Soc.  And  does  this  definition  of  virtue  include  all  virtue  ? 
Is  virtue  the  same  in  a  child  and  in  a  slave,  Meno?  Ought 

ME  NO.  273 

the  child   to  govern   his   father,  or  the  slave  his   master ;   and 
would  he  who  governed  be  any  longer  a  slave  ? 

Men.  I  think  not,  Socrates. 

Soc.  No,  indeed  ;  there  would  be  small  reason  in  that.  Yet 
once  more,  fair  friend  ;  according  to  you,  virtue  is  '  the  power 
of  governing;'  but  do  you  not  add  'justly  and  not  unjustly'? 

Men.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  I  agree  to  that,  for  justice  is  virtue. 

Soc.  Would  you  say  'virtue,'  Meno,  or  'a  virtue'? 

Men.  What  do  you  mean? 

Soc.  I  mean  as  I  might  say  about  anything  ;  that  a  round, 
for  example,  is  '  a  figure'  and  not  simply  '  figure,'  and  I  should 
adopt  this  mode  of  speaking,  because  there  are  other  figures. 

Men.  Quite  right ;  and  that  is  just  what  I  am  saying  about 
virtue — that  there  are  other  virtues  as  well  as  justice. 
74      Soc.  What  are  they?  tell  me  the  names  of  them,  as  I  would 
tell  you  the  names  of  the  other  figures  if  you  asked  me. 

Men.  Courage  and  temperance  and  wisdom  and  magnificence 
are  virtues  ;  and  there  are  many  others. 

Soc.  Yes,  Meno  ;  and  again  we  are  in  the  same  case  :  in 
searching  after  one  virtue  we  have  found  many,  though  not  in 
the  same  way  as  before ;  but  we  have  been  unable  to  find  the 
common  virtue  which  runs  through  them  all. 

Men.  Why,  Socrates,  even  now  I  am  not  able  to  follow  you 
in  the  attempt  to  get  at  one  common  notion  of  virtue  as  of 
other  things. 

Soc.  No  wonder ;  but  I  will  try  to  arrive  a  little  nearer  if 
I  can,  for  you  know  that  all  things  have  a  common  notion. 
Suppose  now  that  some  one  asked  you  the  question  which 
I  asked  before :  Meno,  he  would  say,  what  is  figure  ?  And  if 
you  answered  'roundness,'  he  would  reply  to  you,  in  my  way 
of  speaking,  by  asking  whether  you  would  say  that  roundness 
is  'figure'  or  'a  figure;'  and  you  would  answer  'a  figure.' 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  for  this  reason — that  there  are  other  figures? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  if  he  proceeded  to  ask,  What  other  figures  are 
there?  you  would  have  told  him. 

Men.  I  should. 

Soc.  And  if  he  similarly  asked  what  colour  is,  and  you  an- 
VOL.  I.  T 

274  ME  NO. 

swered  whiteness,  and  the  questioner  rejoined,  Would  you  say 
that  whiteness  is  colour  or  a  colour  ?  you  would  reply,  A  colour, 
because  there  are  other  colours  as  well. 

Men.  I  should. 

Soc.  And  if  he  had  said,  Tell  me  what  they  are  ? — you  would 
have  told  him  of  other  colours  which  are  colours  just  as  much 
as  whiteness. 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  suppose  that  he  were  to  pursue  the  matter  in  my 
way,  he  would  say  :  Ever  and  anon  we  are  landed  in  particu 
lars,  but  this  is  not  what  I  want ;  tell  me  then,  since  you  call 
them  by  a  common  name,  and  say  that  they  are  all  figures, 
even  when  opposed  to  one  another,  what  is  that  common  nature 
which  you  designate  as  figure— which  contains  straight  as  well 
as  round,  and  is  no  more  one  than  the  other — that  would  be 
your  mode  of  speaking? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  in  speaking  thus,  you  do  not  mean  to  say  that  the 
round  is  round  any  more  than  straight,  or  the  straight  any  more 
straight  than  round? 

Men.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  You  only  assert  that  the  round  figure  is  not  more  a 
figure  than  the  straight,  or  the  straight  than  the  round  ? 

Men.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  To  what  then  do  we  give  the  name  of  figure  ?  Try  and 
answer.  Suppose  that  when  a  person  asked  you  this  question 
either  about  figure  or  colour,  you  were  to  reply,  Man,  I  do  not  75 
understand  what  you  want,  or  know  what  you  are  saying ;  he 
would  look  rather  astonished  and  say :  Do  you  not  understand 
that  I  am  looking  for  the  'simile  in  multis'?  And  then  he 
might  put  the  question  in  another  form  :  Meno,  he  might  say, 
what  is  that  'simile  in  multis'  which  you  call  figure,  and  which 
includes  not  only  round  and  straight  figures,  but  all  ?  Could  you 
not  answer  that  question,  Meno  ?  I  wish  that  you  would  try ; 
the  attempt  will  be  good  practice  with  a  view  to  the  answer 
about  virtue. 

Men.  I  would  rather  that  you  should  answer,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Shall  I  indulge  you? 

Men.  By  all  means. 



Soc.  And  then  you  will  tell  me  about  virtue? 

Men.  I  will. 

Soc.  Then  I  must  do  my  best,  for  there  is  a  prize  to  be  won. 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Well,  I  will  try  and  explain  to  you  what  figure  is.  What 
do  you  say  to  this  answer? — Figure  is  the  only  thing  that 
always  follows  colour.  I  hope  that  you  are  satisfied  with  that, 
as  I  am  sure  I  should  be  content  if  you  would  let  me  have  a 
similar  definition  of  virtue. 

Men.  But  that,  Socrates,  is  a  simple  answer. 

Soc.  Why  simple  ? 

Men.  Because  you  say  that  figure  is  that  which  always 
follows  colour ;  but  if  a  person  says  that  he  does  not  know 
what  colour  is,  any  more  than  what  figure  is — what  sort  of 
answer  would  you  have  given  him  ? 

Soc.  I  should  have  told  him  the  truth.  And  if  he  were  a 
philosopher  of  the  eristic  and  antagonistic  sort,  I  should  say 
to  him  :  You  have  my  answer,  and  if  I  am  wrong,  your  business 
is  to  take  up  the  argument  and  refute  me.  But  if  I  were 
talking  as  you  and  I  now  are,  as  between  friends,  I  should 
reply  in  a  milder  strain  and  more  in  the  dialectician's  way ; 
that  is  to  say,  I  should  not  only  speak  the  truth,  but  I  should 
make  use  of  premisses  which  the  person  interrogated  would  be 
willing  to  admit.  And  this  is  the  way  in  which  I  shall  approach 
you.  You  will  acknowledge,  will  you  not,  that  there  is  such 
a  thing  as  an  end,  or  termination,  or  extremity? — all  of  which 
words  I  use  in  the  same  sense,  although  I  am  aware  that 
Prodicus  might  quarrel  with  us  about  this  :  but  still  you,  I  am 
sure,  would  speak  of  a  thing  as  ended  or  terminated — that  is  all 
which  I  am  saying — not  anything  very  difficult. 

Men.  Yes,  I  should  ;  and  I  believe  that  I  understand  your 

76      Soc.  And  you  would  speak  of  a  surface  and  also  of  a  solid, 
as  for  example  in  geometry. 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Well  then,  you  are  now  in  a  condition  to  understand 
my  definition  of  figure.  I  define  figure  to  be  that  in  which  the 
solid  ends  ;  or,  more  concisely,  the  limit  of  solid. 

Men.  And  now,  Socrates,  what  is  colour? 

T  2 

276  ME  NO. 

Soc.  You  are  outrageous,  Meno,  in  thus  plaguing  a  poor  old 
man  to  give  you  an  answer,  when  you  will  not  take  the  trouble 
of  remembering  what  is  Gorgias'  definition  of  virtue. 

Men.  When  you  have  told  me  what  I  ask,  I  will  tell  you, 

Soc.  A  man  who  was  blindfolded  has  only  to  hear  you 
talking,  and  he  would  know  that  you  are  a  fair  creature  and 
have  still  many  lovers. 

Men.  Why  do  you  say  that? 

Soc.  Why,  because  you  always  speak  in  imperatives  :  like  all 
beauties  when  they  are  in  their  prime,  you  are  tyrannical  ; 
and  also,  as  I  suspect,  you  have  found  out  that  I  have  a 
weakness  for  the  fair,  and  therefore  I  must  humour  you  and 

Men.  Please  do. 

Soc.  Would  you  like  me  to  answer  you  after  the  manner  of 
Gorgias,  which  is  familiar  to  you  ? 

Men.  I  should  very  much  like  that. 

Soc.  Do  not  he  and  you  and  Empedocles  say  that  there  are 
certain  effluences  of  existence  ? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  passages  into  which  and  through  which  the  effluences 

Men.  Exactly. 

Soc.  And  some  of  the  effluences  fit  into  the  passages,  and 
some  of  them  are  too  small  or  too  large? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  there  is  such  a  thing  as  sight  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  now,  as  Pindar  says,  'read  my  meaning:' — colour 
is  an  effluence  of  form,  commensurate  with  sight,  and  sensible. 

Men.  That,  Socrates,  appears  to  me  to  be  an  admirable 

Soc.  Why,  yes,  because  it  is  just  such  an  one  as  you  have 
been  in  the  habit  of  hearing :  and  your  wit  will  have  discovered 
that  you  may  explain  in  the  same  way  the  nature  of  sound 
and  smell,  and  of  many  other  similar  phenomena. 

Men.  Quite  true. 

Soc.  The  answer,   Meno,  was  in  the  orthodox  solemn  vein, 

MENO.  277 

and  therefore  was  more  acceptable  to  you  than  the  other  answer 
about  figure. 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  yet,  O  son  of  Alexidcmus,  I  cannot  help  thinking 
that  the  other  was  the  better ;  and  I  am  sure  that  you  would 
be  of  the  same  opinion,  if  you  would  only  stay  and  be  initiated, 
and  were  not  compelled,  as  you  said  yesterday,  to  go  away 
before  the  mysteries. 

Men.  But   I  will  gladly   stay,    Socrates,  if  you  will  give  me 
77  many  such  answers. 

Soc.  Well  then,  for  my  own  sake  as  well  as  for  yours,  I  will 
do  my  very  best ;  but  I  am  afraid  that  I  shall  not  be  able  to 
give  you  very  many  as  good  :  and  now,  in  your  turn,  you  are 
to  fulfil  your  promise,  and  tell  me  what  virtue  is  in  the  universal; 
and  do  not  make  a  singular  into  a  plural,  as  the  facetious  say  of 
those  who  break  a  thing,  but  deliver  virtue  to  me  whole  and 
sound  and  not  broken  into  a  number  of  pieces.  I  have  given 
you  the  pattern. 

Men.  Well  then,  Socrates,  virtue,  as  I  take  it,  is  the  love  and 
attainment  of  the  honourable ;  that  is  what  the  poet  says,  and  I 
say  too — 

'  Virtue  is  the  desire  and  power  of  attaining  the  honourable.' 

Soc:  And  does  he  who  desires  the  honourable  also  desire  the 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Then  are  there  some  who  desire  the  evil  and  others  who 
desire  the  good !  Do  not  all  men,  my  dear  sir,  desire  good  ? 

Men.  No,  I  do  not  think  that. 

Soc.  There  are  some  who  desire  evil  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Do  you  mean  that  they  think  the  evils  which  they  desire 
to  be  good  ;  or  do  they  know  that  they  are  evil  and  yet  desire 
them  ? 

Men.  Both,  as  I  think. 

Soc.  And  do  you  really  imagine,  Meno,  that  a  man  knows 
evils  to  be  evils  and  desires  them  notwithstanding? 

Men.  Certainly  I  do. 

Soc.  And  desire  is  of  possession  ? 

Men.  Yes,  of  possession. 

278  ME  NO. 

Soc.  And  does  he  think  that  the  evils  will  do  good  to  him  who 
possesses  them,  or  does  he  know  that  they  will  do  him  harm  ? 

Men.  There  are  some  who  think  that  the  evils  will  do  them 
good,  and  others  who  know  that  they  will  do  them  harm. 

Soc.  And,  in  your  opinion,  do  those  who  think  that  they  will 
do  them  good  know  that  they  are  evils? 

Men.  No,  I  certainly  do  not  think  that. 

Soc.  Do  you  not  see  that  they  do  not  desire  the  evils,  who  are 
ignorant  of  their  nature,  but  they  desire  what  they  suppose  to  be 
goods  although  they  are  really  evils ;  and  if  they  are  mistaken 
and  suppose  the  evils  to  be  goods  they  really  desire  goods  ? 

Men.  Yes,  in  that  case. 

Soc.  Well,  and  do  those  who,  as  you  say,  desire  evils,  and 
think  that  evils  are  hurtful  to  the  possessor  of  them,  know  that 
they  will  be  hurt  by  them  ? 

Men.  They  must  know  that. 

Soc.  And  do  they  not  suppose  that  they  are  miserable  in  the  7  8 
degree  that  they  are  hurt? 

Men.  That  again  they  must  believe. 

Soc.  And  are  not  the  miserable  ill-fated  ? 

Men.  Yes,  indeed. 

Soc.  And  does  any  one  desire  to  be  miserable  and  ill-fated  ? 

Men.  I  should  say  not,  Socrates. 

Soc.  But  if  there  is  no  one  who  desires  to  be  miserable,  there 
is  no  one,  Meno,  who  desires  evil ;  for  what  is  misery  but  the 
desire  and  possession  of  evil  ? 

Men.  That  appears  to  be  the  truth,  Socrates,  and  I  admit  that 
nobody  desires  evil. 

Soc.  And  yet,  were  you  not  saying  just  now  that  virtue  is  the 
desire  and  power  of  attaining  good  ? 

Men.  Yes,  I  did  say  that. 

Soc.  But  granting  that,  then  the  desire  of  good  is  common  to 
all,  and  one  man  is  no  better  than  another  in  that? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  if  one  man  is  not  better  than  another  in  desiring 
good,  he  must  be  better  in  the  power  of  attaining  good  ? 

Men.  Exactly. 

Soc.  Then,  according  to  your  definition,  virtue  would  appear 
to  be  the  power  of  attaining  good  ? 

MENO.  279 

Men.  I  entirely  approve,  Socrates,  of  the  manner  in  which 
you  view  this  matter. 

Soc.  Then  now  let  us  see  whether  what  you  say  is  true  from 
another  point  of  view  ;  for  very  likely  you  may  be  right : — You 
mean  to  say  that  virtue  is  the  power  of  attaining  good  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  you  would  say  that  goods  are  such  as  health  and 
wealth  and  the  possession  of  gold  and  silver,  and  having  office 
and  honour  in  the  state — those  are  what  you  would  call  goods? 

Men.  Yes,  all  those. 

Soc.  Then,  according  to  Meno,  who  is  the  hereditary  friend 
of  the  great  king,  virtue  is  the  power  of  getting  silver  and  gold  ; 
and  would  you  add  piously,  justly,  or  do  you  deem  this  of  no 
consequence?  And  is  any  mode  of  acquisition,  even  if  unjust 
or  dishonest,  equally  to  be  regarded  as  virtue? 

Men.  Not  virtue,  Socrates,  but  vice. 

Soc.  Then  justice  or  temperance  or  holiness,  or  some  other 
part  of  virtue,  as  would  appear,  must  accompany  the  acquisition, 
and  without  them  the  mere  acquisition  of  good  will  not  be  virtue. 

Men.  Why,  how  can  there  be  virtue  without  these? 

Soc.  And  the  non-acquisition  of  gold  and  silver  in  a  dishonest 
manner  may  be  equally  virtue? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  Then  the  acquisition  of  such  goods  is  no  more  virtue 
than  the  non-acquisition  of  them,  but  whatever  is  accompanied 
by  justice  or  honesty  is  virtue,  and  whatever  is  devoid  of  justice 
79  is  vice. 

Men.  There  can  be  no  doubt  about  that,  in  my  judgment. 

Soc.  And  were  we  not  saying  just  now  that  justice,  tem 
perance,  and  the  like,  were  each  of  them  a  part  of  virtue  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  so,  Meno,  this  is  the  way  in  which  you  mock  me. 

Men.  Why  do  you  say  that,  Socrates? 

Soc.  Why,  because  I  asked  you  to  deliver  virtue  into  my 
hands  whole  and  unbroken,  and  I  gave  you  a  pattern  according 
to  which  you  were  to  frame  your  answer ;  and  you  have  for 
gotten  already,  and  tell  me  that  virtue  is  the  power  of  attaining 
good  justly,  or  with  justice  ;  and  justice  you  acknowledge  to  be 
a  part  of  virtue. 

280  MENO. 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  it  follows  from  your  own  admissions,  that  virtue  is 
doing  what  you  do  with  a  part  of  virtue ;  for  justice  and  the 
like  are  each  of  them  parts  of  virtue. 

Men.  What  of  that  ? 

Soc.  What  of  that !  Why,  did  not  I  ask  you  to  tell  me  the 
nature  of  virtue  as  a  whole  ?  And  you  are  very  far  from  telling 
me  this  ;  but  declare  every  action  to  be  virtue  which  is  done 
/with  a  part  of  virtue ;  as  though  you  had  told  me  and  I  must 
already  know  the  whole  of  virtue,  and  this  too  when  frittered 
away  into  little  pieces.  And,  therefore,  my  dear  Meno,  I  fear 
that  I  must  begin  again  and  repeat  the  same  question:  What 
is  virtue?  for  otherwise,  I  can  only  say,  that  every  action  done 
with  a  part  of  virtue  is  virtue ;  what  else  is  the  meaning  of 
saying  that  every  action  done  with  justice  is  virtue?  Ought  I 
not  to  ask  the  question  over  again  ;  for  can  any  one  who  does 
not  know  virtue  know  a  part  of  virtue  ? 

Men.  No  ;  I  do  not  say  that  he  can. 

Soc.  Do  you  remember  how,  in  the  example  of  figure,  we 
rejected  any  answer  given  in  terms  which  were  as  yet  unex 
plained  or  unadmitted? 

Men.  Yes,  Socrates ;  and  we  were  right  in  that. 

Soc.  Well,  my  friend,  do  as  we  did  then  :  and  do  not  suppose 
that  we  can  explain  to  any  one  the  nature  of  virtue  as  a  whole 
through  some  unexplained  portion  of  virtue,  or  anything  at  all 
in  that  fashion  ;  for  that  only  leads  to  a  repetition  of  the  old 
question,  What  is  virtue  ?  Am  I  not  right  ? 

Men.  I  believe  that  you  are. 

Soc.  Then  begin  again,  and  answer  me,  What,  according  to 
you  and  your  friend,  is  the  definition  of  virtue  ? 

Men.  O  Socrates,  I  used  to  be  told,  before  I  knew  you,  that 
you  were  always  puzzling  yourself  and  others  ;  and  now  you  are  80 
casting  your  spells  over  me,  and  I  am  simply  getting  bewitched 
and  enchanted,  and  am  at  my  wits'  end.  And  if  I  may  venture 
to  make  a  jest  upon  you,  you  seem  to  me  both  in  your 
appearance  and  in  your  power  over  others  to  be  very  like  the 
flat  torpedo  fish,  who  torpifies  those  who  come  near  him  with 
the  touch,  as  you  have  now  torpified  me,  I  think.  For  my  soul 
and  my  tongue  are  really  torpid,  and  I  do  not  know  how  to 

ME  NO.  281 

answer  you  ;  and  though  I  have  been  delivered  of  an  infinite 
variety  of  speeches  about  virtue  before  now,  and  to  many 
persons — and  very  good  ones  they  were,  as  I  thought — at  this 
moment  I  cannot  even  say  what  virtue  is.  And  I  think  that  you 
are  very  wise  in  not  voyaging  and  going  away  from  home,  for  if 
you  did  in  other  places  as  you  do  in  Athens,  you  would  be  cast 
into  prison  as  a  magician. 

Soc.  You  are  a  rogue,  Meno,  and  had  all  but  caught  me. 

Men.  What  do  you  mean,  Socrates  ? 

Soc.  I  can  tell  you  why  you  made  a  simile  about  me. 

Men.  Why? 

Soe.  In  order  that  I  might  make  another  simile  about  you. 
For  I  know  that  all  pretty  young  gentlemen  like  to  have  pretty 
similes  made  about  them — as  well  they  may — but  I  shall  not 
return  the  compliment.  As  to  my  being  a  torpedo,  if  the  torpedo 
is  torpid  as  well  as  the  cause  of  torpidity  in  others,  then  indeed 
I  am  a  torpedo,  but  not  otherwise  ;  for  I  perplex  others,  not 
because  I  am  clear,  but  because  I  am  utterly  perplexed  myself. 
And  now  I  know  not  what  virtue  is,  and  you  seem  to  be  in  the 
same  case,  although  you  did  once  know  before  you  touched  me. 
However,  I  have  no  objection  to  join  with  you  in  the  enquiry. 

Men.  And  how  will  you  enquire,  Socrates,  into  that  which 
you  do  not  know  ?  What  will  you  put  forth  as  the  subject  of 
enquiry  ?  And  if  you  find  what  you  want,  how  will  you  ever 
know  that  this  is  what  you  did  not  know  ? 

Soc.  I  know,  Meno,  what  you  mean  ;  but  just  see  what  a 
tiresome  dispute  you  are  introducing.  You  argue  that  a  man 
cannot  enquire  either  about  that  which  he  knows,  or  about  that 
which  he  does  not  know  ;  for  he  knows,  and  therefore  has  no 
need  to  enquire  about  that — nor  about  that  which  he  does  not 
know  ;  for  he  does  not  know  that  about  which  he  is  to  enquire.1 
8 1  Men.  Well,  Socrates,  and  is  not  the  argument  sound  ? 

Soc.  I  think  not. 

Men.  Why  not  ? 

Soc.  I  will  tell  you  why.  I  have  heard  from  certain  wise 
men  and  women  who  spoke  of  things  divine  that — 

Men.  What  did  they  say  ? 

Soc.  They  spoke  of  a  glorious  truth,  as  I  conceive. 
1  Cp.  Aristot.  Post.  Anal.  I.  i.  6. 

282  ME  NO. 

Men.  What  was  that  ?   and  who  were  they  ? 

Soc.  Some  of  them  were  priests  and  priestesses,  who  had 
studied  how  they  might  be  able  to  give  a  reason  of  their  pro 
fession  :  there  have  been  poets  also,  such  as  the  poet  Pindar 
and  other  inspired  men.  And  what  they  say  is  —  mark,  now, 
and  see  whether  their  words  are  true — they  say  that  the  soul 
of  man  is  immortal,  and  at  one  time  has  an  end,  which  is 
termed  dying,  and  at  another  time  is  born  again,  but  is  never 
destroyed.  And  the  moral  is,  that  a  man  ought  to  live  always 
in  perfect  holiness.  '  For  in  the  ninth  year  Persephone  sends 
the  souls  of  those  from  whom  she  has  received  the  penalty  of 
ancient  crime  back  again  into  the  light  of  this  world,  and  these 
are  they  who  become  noble  kings  and  mighty  men  and  great 
in  wisdom  and  are  called  saintly  heroes  in  after  ages?  The 
soul,  then,  as  being  immortal,  and  having  been  born  again 
many  times,  and  having  seen  all  things  that  there  are,  whether 
in  this  world  or  in  the  world  below,  has  knowledge  of  them 
all  ;  and  it  is  no  wonder  that  she  should  be  able  to  call  to 
remembrance  all  that  she  ever  knew  about  virtue,  and  about 
everything  ;  for  as  all  nature  is  akin,  and  the  soul  has  learned 
all  things,  there  is  no  difficulty  in  her  eliciting,  or  as  men  say 
learning,  all  out  of  a  single  recollection,  if  a  man  is  strenuous 
and  does  not  faint ;  for  all  enquiry  and  all  learning  is  but 
recollection.  And  therefore  we  ought  not  to  listen  to  this 
sophistical  argument  about  the  impossibility  of  enquiry  :  that 
is  a  saying  which  will  make  us  idle,  and  is  sweet  only  to  the 
sluggard  ;  but  the  other  saying  will  make  us  active  and  in 
quisitive.  In  that  confiding,  I  will  gladly  enquire  with  you 
into  the  nature  of  virtue. 

Men.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  but  what  do  you  mean  by  saying  that 
we  do  not  learn,  and  that  what  we  call  learning  is  only  a 
process  of  recollection  ?  Can  you  teach  me  that  ? 

Soc.  I  told  you,  Meno,  that  you  were  a  rogue,  and  now  you 
ask  whether  I  can   teach   you,  when   I  am   saying   that   there 
is  no  teaching,  but   only  recollection  ;   and   thus   you   imagine  82 
that  you  will  involve  me  in  a  contradiction. 

Men.  Indeed,  Socrates,  I  protest  that  I  had  no  such  inten 
tion.  I  only  asked  the  question  from  habit  ;  but  if  you  can 
prove  to  me  that  what  you  say  is  true,  I  wish  that  you  would. 

ME  NO.  283 

Soc.  That  is  no  easy  matter,  but  I  will  try  to  please  you 
to  the  utmost  of  my  power.  Suppose  that  you  call  one  of 
your  numerous  attendants,  that  I  may  demonstrate  on  him. 

Men.  Certainly.     Come  hither,  boy. 

Soc.  He  is  Greek,  and  speaks  Greek,  docs  he  not  ? 

Men.  Yes  ;    he  was  born  in  the  house. 

Soc.  Attend  now  to  the  questions  which  I  ask  him,  and 
observe  whether  he  learns  of  me  or  only  remembers. 

Men.  I  will. 

Soc.   Tell  me,  boy,  do  you  know  that  a  figure  like  this  is  a 

square  ? 

Boy.  I  do. 

Soc.  And  you  know  that  a  square  figure  has  these  four  lines 
equal  ? 

Boy.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  these  lines  which  I  have  drawn  through  the  middle 
of  the  square  are  also  equal  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  A  square  may  be  of  any  size? 

Boy.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  if  one  side  of  the  figure  be  of  two  feet,  and  the 
other  side  be  of  two  feet,  how  much  will  the  whole  be  ?  Let 
me  explain:  if  in  one  direction  the  space  was  of  two  feet,  and 
in  the  other  direction  of  one  foot,  the  whole  would  be  of  two 
feet  taken  once  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  But  since  this  side  is  also  of  two  feet,  there  arc  twice 
two  feet? 

Boy.  There  are. 

Soc.  Then  the  square  is  of  twice  two  feet  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  how  many  are  twice  two  feet?    count  and  tell  me. 

Boy.  Four,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  might  there  not  be  another  square  twice  as  large 
as  this,  and  having  like  this  the  lines  equal  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  of  how  many  feet  will  that  be  ? 

Boy.  Of  eight  feet. 

Soc.  And  now  try  and  tell  me  the  length  of  the  line  which 



forms  the  side  of  that  double  square  :    this  is  two   feet — what 
will  that  be? 

Boy.  Clearly,  Socrates,  that  will  be  double. 

Soc.  Do  you  observe,  Meno,  that  I  am  not  teaching  the  boy 
anything,  but  only  asking  him  questions  ;  and  now  he  fancies 
that  he  knows  how  long  a  line  is  necessary  in  order  to  produce 
a  figure  of  eight  square  feet ;  does  he  not  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  does  he  really  know  ? 

Men.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  He  only  guesses  that  [because  the  square  is  double], 
the  line  is  double. 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  Observe  him  while  he  recalls  the  steps  in  regular  order. 
(To  the  Boy.)  Tell  me,  boy,  do  you  assert  that  a  double  space  83 
comes  from  a  double  line  ?  Remember  that  I  am  not  speak 
ing  of  an  oblong,  but  of  a  square,  and  of  a  square  twice  the 
size  of  this  one — that  is  to  say  of  eight  feet  ;  and  I  want  to 
know  whether  you  still  say  that,  a  double  square  comes  from 
a  double  line? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  But  does  not  this  line  become  doubled  if  we  add  another 
such  line  here? 

Boy.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  four  such  lines  will  make  a  space  containing  eight 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  Let  us  describe  such  a  figure :  is  not  that  what  you 
would  say  is  the  figure  of  eight  feet  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  are  there  not  these  four  divisions  in  the  figure,  each 
of  which  is  equal  to  the  figure  of  four  feet  ? 

Boy.  True. 

Soc.  And  is  not  that  four  times  four? 

Boy.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  four  times  is  not  double? 

Boy.  No,  indeed. 

Soc.  But  how  much? 

Boy.  Four  times  as  much. 

ME  NO.  285 

Soc.  Therefore  the  double  line,  boy,  has  formed  a  space,  not 
twice,  but  four  times  as  much. 

Boy.  True. 

Soc.  And  four  times  four  are  sixteen — are  they  not  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  What  line  would  give  you  a  space  of  eight  feet,  as  this 
gives  one  of  sixteen  feet ; — do  you  see  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  the  space  of  four  feet  is  made  from  this  half  line  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  Good;  and  is  not  a  space  of  eight  feet  twice  the  size 
of  this,  and  half  the  size  of  the  other  ? 

Boy.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Such  a  space,  then,  will  be  made  out  of  a  line  greater 
than  this  one,  and  less  than  that  one? 

Boy.  Yes  ;  that  is  what  I  think. 

Soc.  Very  good  ;  I  like  to  hear  you  say  what  you  think.  And 
now  tell  me,  is  not  this  a  line  of  two  feet  and  that  of  four  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  the  line  which  forms  the  side  of  eight  feet  ought 
to  be  more  than  this  line  of  two  feet,  and  less  than  the  other 
of  four  feet? 

Boy.  It  ought. 

Soc.  Try  and  see  if  you  can  tell  me  how  much  it  will  be. 

Boy.  Three  feet. 

Soc.  Then  if  we  add  a  half  to  this  line  of  two,  that  will  be 
the  line  of  three.  Here  are  two  and  there  is  one ;  and  on  the 
other  side,  here  are  two  also  and  there  is  one  :  and  that  makes 
the  figure  of  which  you  speak  ? 

Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  But  if  there  are  three  feet  this  way  and  three  feet  that 
way,  the  whole  space  will  be  three  times  three  feet? 

Boy.  That  is  evident. 

Soc.  And  how  much  are  three  times  three  feet  ? 

Boy.  Nine. 

Soc.  And  how  much  is  the  double  of  four? 

Boy.  Eight. 

Soc.  Then  the  figure  of  eight  is  not  made  out  of  a  line  of 
three  ? 

286  MENO. 

Boy.  No. 

Soc.  But  from  what  line  ? — tell  me  exactly  ;  and  if  you  would  84 
rather  not  reckon,  try  and  show  me  the  line. 
Boy.  Indeed,  Socrates,  I  do  not  know. 

Soc.  Do  you  see,  Meno,  what  advances  he  has  made  in  his 
power  of  recollection  ?  He  did  not  know  at  first,  and  he  does 
not  know  now,  what  is  the  side  of  a  figure  of  eight  feet  :  but 
then  he  thought  that  he  knew,  and  answered  confidently  as  if 
he  knew,  and  had  no  difficulty  ;  now  he  has  a  difficulty,  and 
neither  knows  nor  fancies  that  he  knows. 
Men.  True. 

Soc.  Is  he  not  better  off  in  knowing  his  ignorance  ? 
Men.  I  think  that  he  is. 

Soc.    If  we  have  made  him  doubt,  and  given  him  the  'tor 
pedo's  shock,'  have  we  done  him  any  harm  ? 
Men.  I  think  not. 

Soc.  We  have  certainly,  as  would  seem,  assisted  him  in  some 
degree  to  the  discovery  of  the  truth ;  and  now  he  will  wish  to 
remedy  his  ignorance,  but  then  he  would  have  been  ready  to  ' 
tell  all  the  world  that  the  double  space  should  have  a  double 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  But  do  you  suppose  that  he  would  ever  have  enquired 
into  or  learned  what  he  fancied  that  he  knew  and  did  not  know, 
until  he  had  fallen  into  perplexity  under  the  idea  that  he  did 
not  know,  and  had  desired  to  know? 
Men.  I  think  not,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Then  he  was  the  better  for  the  torpedo's  touch? 
Men.  I  think  that  he  was. 

Soc.  Mark  now  the  farther  development.  I  shall  only  ask 
him,  and  not  teach  him,  and  he  shall  share  the  enquiry  with 
me :  and  do  you  watch  and  see  if  you  find  me  telling  or  ex 
plaining  anything  to  him,  instead  of  eliciting  his  opinion.  Tell 
me,  boy,  is  not  this  a  square  of  four  feet  which  I  have  drawn  ? 
Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  now  I  add  another  square  equal  to  the  former  one? 
Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  a  third,  which  is  equal  to  either  of  them  ? 
Boy.  Yes. 

ME  NO.  287 

Soc.  Suppose  that  we  fill  up  the  vacant  corner. 
Boy.  Very  good. 

Soc.  Here,  then,  there  are  four  equal  spaces? 
Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.    And   how  many   times    larger   is   this    space   than    this 
other  ? 

Boy.  Four  times. 

Soc.    But    it    ought    to    have    been    twice    only,  as    you    will 
Boy.  True. 

Soc.  And  does  not  this  line,  reaching  from  corner  to  corner, 
>5  bisect  each  of  these  spaces? 
Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.   And  are  there  not  here  four  equal  lines  which  contain 
this  space  ? 

Boy.  There  are. 

Soc.  Look  and  see  how  much  this  space  is. 
Boy.  I  do  not  understand. 

Soc.    Has    not    each    interior    line    cut    off  half   of   the  four 
spaces  ? 
Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  how  many  such  spaces  are  there  in  this  division  ? 
Boy.  Four. 

Soc.  And  how  many  in  this  ? 
Boy.  Two. 

Soc.  And  four  is  how  many  times  two? 
Boy.  Twice. 

Soc.  And  this  space  is  of  how  many  feet  ? 
Boy.  Of  eight  feet. 

Soc.  And  from  what  line  do  you  get  this  figure  ? 
Boy.  From  this. 

Soc.  That   is,  from    the  line  which    extends   from    corner  to 
Boy.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  that  is  the  line  which  the  learned  call  the  diagonal. 
And  if  this  is  the  proper  name,  then  you,  Meno's  slave,  are 
prepared  to  affirm  that  the  double  space  is  the  square  of  the 
diagonal  ? 

Boy.  Certainly,  Socrates. 

288  MENO. 

Soc.  What  do  you  say  of  him,  Meno?  Were  not  all  these 
answers  given  out  of  his  own  head  ? 

Men.  Yes,  they  were  all  his  own. 

Soc.  And  yet,  as  we  were  just  now  saying,  he  did  not  know? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  But  still  he  had  those  notions  in  him — had  he  not? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  he  who  does  not  know  has  yet  true  notions  of  that 
which  he  does  not  know? 

Men.  He  has. 

Soc.  And  at  present  these  notions  have  just  been  stirred  up 
in  him,  as  in  a  dream  ;  but  if  he  were  frequently  asked  the  same 
questions,  in  different  forms,  he  would  know  as  well  as  any  one 
at  last  ? 

Men.  I  dare  say. 

Soc.  Without  any  one  teaching  him  he  will  recover  his  know 
ledge  for  himself,  if  he  is  only  asked  questions  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  this  spontaneous  recovery  in  him  is  recollection  ? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  this  knowledge  which  he  now  has  must  he  not 
either  have  acquired  or  always  possessed  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  But  if  he  always  possessed  this  knowledge  he  would 
always  have  known  ;  or  if  he  has  acquired  the  knowledge  he 
could  not  have  acquired  it  in  this  life,  unless  he  has  been  taught 
geometry ;  for  he  may  be  made  to  do  the  same  with  all 
geometry  and  every  other  branch  of  knowledge.  Now,  has 
any  one  ever  taught  him?  You  must  know  that,  if,  as  you 
say,  he  was  born  and  bred  in  your  house. 

Men.  And  I  am  certain  that  no  one  ever  did  teach  him. 

Soc.  And  yet  has  he  not  the  knowledge? 

Men.  That,  Socrates,  is  most  certain. 

Soc.  But  if  he  did  not  acquire  the  knowledge  in    this   life, 
then  clearly  he  must  have  had  and   learned   it  at  some  other  86 

Men.  That  is  evident. 

Soc.  And  that  must  have  been  the  time  when  he  was  not  a 

MENO.  289 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  if  there  have  been  always  true  thoughts  in  him, 
both  at  the  time  when  he  was  and  was  not  a  man,  which  only 
need  to  be  awakened  into  knowledge  by  putting  questions  to 
him,  his  soul  must  have  always  possessed  this  knowledge,  for 
he  always  either  was  or  was  not  a  man  ? 

Men.  That  is  clear. 

Soc.  And  if  the  truth  of  all  things  always  existed  in  the  soul,^ 
then  the  soul  is  immortal.  Wherefore  be  of  good  cheer,  and  try 
to  recollect  what  you  do  not  know,  or  rather  do  not  remember. 

Men.  I  feel,  somehow,  that  I  like  what  you  are  saying. 

Soc.  And  I,  Meno,  like  what  I  am  saying.  Some  things  I 
have  said  of  which  I  am  not  altogether  confident '  But  that 
we  shall  be  better  and  braver  and  less  helpless  if  we  think 
that  we  ought  to  enquire,  than  we  should  have  been  if  we 
indulged  in  the  idle  fancy  that  there  was  no  knowing  and  no 
use  in  searching  after  what  we  do  not  know ; — that  is  a  theme 
upon  which  I  am  ready  to  fight,  in  word  and  deed,  to  the 
utmost  of  my  power. 

Men.  That  again,  Socrates,  appears  to  me  to  be  well  said. 

Soc.  Then,  as  we  are  agreed  that  a  man  should  enquire  about 
that  which  he  does  not  know,  shall  you  and  I  make  an  effort 
to  enquire  together  into  the  nature  of  virtue  ? 

Men.  By  all  means,  Socrates.  And  yet  I  would  rather  return 
to  my  original  question,  Whether  virtue  comes  by  instruction, 
or  by  nature,  or  is  gained  in  some  other  way? 

Soc.  Had  I  the  command  of  you  as  well  as  of  myself,  Meno, 
I  would  not  have  enquired  whether  virtue  is  given  by  instruction, 
or  not,  until  we  had  first  ascertained  *  what  virtue  is.'  But  as 
you  never  think  of  controlling  yourself,  but  only  of  controlling 
him  who  is  your  slave,  and  this  is  your  notion  of  freedom,  I 
must  yield  to  you,  for  I  cannot  help.  And  therefore  I  have 
now  to  enquire  into  the  qualities  of  that  of  which  I  do  not  at 
present  know  the  nature.  At  any  rate,  will  you  condescend  a 
little,  and  allow  the  question  'Whether  virtue  is  given  by  in 
struction,  or  in  any  other  way,'  to  be  argued  upon  hypothesis  ? 
87  As  the  geometrician,  when  he  is  asked  whether  a  certain  triangle 
is  capable  of  being  described  in  a  certain  circle,  will  reply : 
'  I  cannot  tell  you  as  yet ;  but  I  will  offer  a  hypothesis  which 

VOL.  I. 

2  90  MENO. 

may  assist  us  in  forming  a  conclusion  :  If  the  space  be  such 
that  when  you  have  drawn  along  the  line  given  by  it  another 
figure,  the  original  figure  is  reduced  by  a  space  equal  to  that 
which  is  added,1  then  one  consequence  follows,  and  if  this  is 
impossible  then  some  other  ;  and  therefore  I  wish  to  assume 
a  hypothesis  before  I  tell  you  whether  this  triangle  is  capable 
of  being  included  in  the  circle  :'— that  is  a  geometrical  hypo 
thesis.  And  we  too,  as  we  know  not  the  nature  and  qualities 
of  virtue,  must  ask,  whether  virtue  is  or  is  not  taught,  under 
a  hypothesis:  as  thus,  if  virtue  is  of  such  a  class  of  mental 
goods,  will  it  be  taught  or  not?  Let  the  first  hypothesis  be 
that  virtue  is  or  is  not  knowledge,— in  that  case  will  it  be  taught 
or  not?  or,  as  we  were  just  now  saying,  'remembered'?  For 
there  is  no  use  in  disputing  about  the  name.  But  is  virtue 
taught  or  not  ?  or  rather,  does  not  every  one  see  that  knowledge 
alone  is  taught  ? 

Men.  I  agree. 

Soc.  Then  if  virtue  is  knowledge,  virtue  will  be  taught? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Then  now  we  have  made  a  quick  end  of  this  question  : 
if  virtue  is  of  such  a  nature,  it  will  be  taught ;  and  if  not,  not  ? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  the  next  question  is,  whether  virtue  is  knowledge 
or  of  another  species  ? 

Men.  Yes,  that  appears  to  be  the  question  which  comes  next 
in  order. 

Soc.  Do  we  not  say  that  virtue  is  a  good  ?— This  is  a  hypo 
thesis  which  is  not  set  aside. 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Now,  if  there  be  any  sort  of  good  which  is  distinct  from 
knowledge,  virtue  may  be  that  good  ;  but  if  knowledge  embraces 
all  good,  then  we  shall  be  right  in  thinking  that  virtue  is 
knowledge  ? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  virtue  makes  us  good? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  if  we  are  good,  then  we  are  profitable ;  for  all  good 
things  are  profitable? 

1  Or,  in  simpler  phrase,  '  If  so  much  be  taken  from  the  triangle.' 

ME  NO.  291 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  virtue  is  profitable? 

Men.  That  is  the  only  inference. 

Soc.  Then  now  let  us  see  what  are  the  things  which  severally 
profit  us.  Health  and  strength,  and  beauty  and  wealth — these, 
and  the  like  of  these,  we  call  profitable  ? 

Men.  True. 

88       Soc.  And  yet  these  things  may  also  sometimes  do  us  harm  : 
would  you  not  admit  that? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  what  is  the  guiding  principle  which  makes  them 
profitable  or  the  reverse?  Are  they  not  profitable  when  they 
are  rightly  used,  and  hurtful  when  they  are  not  rightly  used? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Next,  let  us  consider  the  goods  of  the  soul :  they  are 
temperance,  justice,  courage,  quickness  of  apprehension,  memory, 
magnificence,  and  the  like? 

Men.  Surely. 

Soc.  And  such  of  these  as  are  not  knowledge,  but  of  another 
sort,  are  sometimes  profitable  and  sometimes  hurtful ;  as,  for 
example,  courage,  which  has  no  prudence,  but  is  only  a  sort  of 
confidence?  When  a  man  has  no  sense  he  is  harmed  by  courage, 
but  when  he  has  sense  he  is  profited  ? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  the  same  may  be  said  of  temperance  and  quickness 
of  apprehension  ;  whatever  things  are  learned  or  done  with  sense 
are  profitable,  but  when  done  without  sense  they  are  hurtful? 

Men.  Very  true. 

Soc.  And  in  general,  all  that  the  soul  attempts  or  endures, 
when  under  the  guidance  of  wisdom,  ends  in  happiness  ;  but 
when  she  is  under  the  guidance  of  folly,  in  the  opposite? 

Men.  That  appears  to  be  true. 

Soc.  If  then  virtue  is  a  quality  of  the  soul,  and  is  admitted 
to  be  profitable,  it  must  be  wisdom  or  prudence,  since  none  of 
the  things  of  the  soul  are  either  profitable  or  hurtful  in  them 
selves,  but  they  are  all  made  profitable  or  hurtful  by  the  addition 
of  wisdom  or  of  folly  ;  and  therefore  if  virtue  is  profitable,  virtue 
must  be  a  sort  of  wisdom  or  prudence  ? 

Men.  That  is  my  view. 

U  2 

292  MENO. 

Soc.  And  the  other  goods,  such  as  wealth  and  the  like,  of 
which  we  were  just  now  saying  that  they  are  sometimes  good 
and  sometimes  evil,  are  they  not  also  made  profitable  or  hurtful, 
accordingly  as  the  soul  guides  and  uses  them  rightly  or 
wrongly — as  in  the  soul  generally,  wisdom  is  the  useful  and 
folly  the  hurtful  guide? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  And  the  wise  soul  guides  them  rightly,  and  the  foolish 
soul  wrongly  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  is  not  this  universally  true  of  human  nature?     All 
y  other  things  hang  upon  the  soul,  and  the    things    of  the    soul 
N/   herself  hang   upon  wisdom,  if   they  are  to   be  good  ;    and   so  89 
wisdom  is  inferred  to  be  that  which  profits — and  virtue,  as  we 
say,  is  profitable  ? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  thus  we  arrive  at  the  conclusion  that  virtue  is  either 
wholly  or  partly  wisdom  ? 

Men.  I  think  that  what  you  are  saying,  Socrates,  is  very  true. 

Soc.  But  if  this  is  true,  then  the  good  are  not  by  nature  good  ? 

Men.  I  think  not. 

Soc.  If  they  had  been,  there  would  assuredly  have  been  dis- 
cerners  of  characters  among  us  who  would  have  known  our 
future  great  men  ;  and  we  should  have  taken  them  on  their 
showing,  and  when  we  had  got  them,  we  should  have  kept  them 
in  the  citadel  out  of  the  way  of  harm,  and  set  a  stamp  upon 
them  far  rather  than  upon  gold,  in  order  that  no  one  might 
tamper  with  them  ;  and  then  when  they  grew  up  they  would 
have  been  useful  to  the  state? 

Men.  Yes,  Socrates,  that  would  have  been  the  way. 

Soc.  But  if  the  good  are  not  by  nature  good,  are  they  made 
good  by  instruction  ? 

Men.  There  is  no  other  alternative,  Socrates.  On  the  sup 
position  that  virtue  is  knowledge,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that 
virtue  is  taught. 

Soc.  Yes,  indeed  ;  but  what  if  the  supposition  is  erroneous  ? 

Men.  I  certainly  thought  just  now  that  we  were  right. 

Soc.  Yes,  Meno  ;  but  a  principle  which  has  any  soundness 
should  stand  firm  not  only  now  and  then,  but  always  and  for 

ME  NO.  293 

Men.  Well ;  and  why  are  you  so  slow  of  heart  to  believe 
that  knowledge  is  virtue  ? 

Soc.  I  will  try  and  tell  you  why,  Meno.  I  do  not  retract 
the  assertion  that  if  virtue  is  knowledge  it  may  be  taught ;  but 
I  fear  that  I  have  some  reason  in  doubting  whether  virtue  is 
knowledge  :  for  consider  now  and  say  whether  virtue,  or  any 
thing  that  is  taught,  must  not  have  teachers  and  disciples  ? 

Men.  Surely. 

Soc.  And  again,  may  not  that  art  of  which  there  are  neither 
teachers  nor  disciples  be  assumed  to  be  incapable  of  being 
taught  ? 

Men.  True  ;  but  do  you  think  that  there  are  no  teachers  of 
virtue  ? 

Soc.  I  have  certainly  often  enquired  whether  there  were  any, 
and  taken  great  pains  to  find  them,  and  have  never  succeeded  ; 
and  many  have  assisted  me  in  the  search,  and  they  were  the 
persons  whom  I  thought  the  most  likely  to  know.  Here  is 
Anytus,  who  is  sitting  by  us  at  the  very  moment  when  he  is 
90  wanted  ;  he  is  the  person  whom  we  should  ask.  In  the  first 
place,  he  is  the  son  of  a  wealthy  and  wise  father,  Anthemion, 
who  acquired  his  wealth,  not  by  accident  or  gift,  like  Ismenias 
the  Theban  (who  has  recently  made  himself  as  rich  as  a 
Polycrates),  but  by  his  own  skill  and  industry,  and  is  a  well- 
conditioned,  modest  man,  not  insolent,  or  over-bearing,  or 
annoying  ;  moreover,  this  son  of  his  has  had  a  good  educa 
tion,  as  the  Athenian  people  certainly  appear  to  think,  for  they 
choose  him  to  fill  the  highest  offices.  And  these  are  the  sort  of 
men  from  whom  you  are  likely  to  learn  whether  there  are  any 
teachers  of  virtue,  and  who  they  are.  Please,  Anytus,  to  help 
me  and  your  friend  Meno  in  answering  our  question,  Who  are 
the  teachers  ?  Consider  the  matter  thus  :  If  we  wanted  Meno 
to  be  a  good  physician,  to  whom  should  we  send  him  ?  Should 
we  not  send  him  to  the  physicians  ? 

Any.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Or  if  we  wanted  him  to  be  a  good  cobbler,  should  we 
not  send  him  to  the  cobblers  ? 

Any.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  so  forth  ? 

Any.  Yes.  -r-v-V 

294  MENO. 

Soc.  Let  me  trouble  you  with  one  more  question.  When  we 
say  that  we  should  be  right  in  sending  him  to  the  physicians 
if  we  wanted  him  to  be  a  physician,  do  we  mean  that  we  should 
be  right  in  sending  him  to  those  who  profess  the  art,  rather 
than  to  those  who  do  not,  and  to  those  who  demand  payment 
for  teaching  the  art,  and  profess  to  teach  it  to  any  one  who 
will  come  and  learn  ?  If  we  were  right  in  sending  him,  would 
that  be  the  reason  ? 

Any.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  might  not  the  same  be  said  of  flute-playing,  and 
of  the  other  arts  ?  No  man  who  wanted  to  make  another  a 
flute-player  would  refuse  to  send  him  to  those  who  profess  to 
teach  the  art  for  money,  and  be  plaguing  other  persons  to  give 
him  instruction  who  do  not  profess  to  teach,  and  never  had  a 
disciple  in  that  branch  of  knowledge  which  he  wishes  him  to 
acquire — that  would  be  the  height  of  folly. 

Any.  Yes,  by  Zeus,  and  of  ignorance  too. 

Soc.  Very  good.  And  now  you  are  in  a  position  to  advise  91 
with  me  about  my  friend  Meno.  He  has  been  saying  to  me, 
Anytus,  that  he  desires  to  attain  that  wisdom  and  virtue,  by 
which  men  order  the  state  or  the  house,  and  honour  their 
parents,  and  know  when  to  receive  and  when  to  send  away 
citizens  and  strangers,  as  a  good  man  should.  Now,  to  whom 
ought  we  to  send  him  in  order  that  he  may  learn  this  virtue  ? 
Does  not  the  previous  argument  imply  clearly  that  he  ought  to 
go  to  those  who  profess  and  avouch  that  they  are  the  common 
teachers  of  Hellas,  and  are  ready  to  impart  instruction  to  any 
one  who  likes,  at  a  fixed  price  ? 

Any.  Whom  do  you  mean,  Socrates? 

Soc.  You  surely  know,  do  you  not,  Anytus,  that  these  are 
the  people  whom  mankind  call  Sophists  ? 

Any.  By  Heracles,  Socrates,  forbear !  I  only  hope  that  no 
friend  or  kinsman  or  acquaintance  of  mine,  whether  citizen  or 
stranger,  will  ever  be  so  mad  as  to  allow  himself  to  be  cor 
rupted  by  them;  for  they  are  a  manifest  pest  and  corrupting 
influence  to  those  who  have  to  do  with  them. 

Soc.  What,  Anytus?  Of  all  the  people  who  profess  that 
they  know  how  to  do  men  good,  do  you  mean  to  say  that  these 
are  the  only  ones  who  not  only  do  them  no  good,  but  positively 

MENO.  295 

corrupt  those  who  are  entrusted  to  them,  and  in  return  for  this 
disservice  publicly  demand  money?  Indeed,  I  cannot  believe 
you  ;  for  I  know  of  a  single  man,  Protagoras,  who  made  more 
out  of  his  craft  than  the  illustrious  Pheidias,  who  created  such 
noble  works,  or  any  ten  other  statuaries.  How  could  that  be? 
A  mender  of  old  shoes,  or  patchcr  up  of  clothes,  who  made  the 
shoes  or  clothes  worse  than  he  received  them,  could  not  have 
remained  thirty  days  undetected,  and  would  very  soon  have 
starved  ;  whereas,  during  more  than  forty  years,  Protagoras 
was  corrupting  his  disciples,  and  sending  them  from  him  worse 
than  he  received  them,  and  yet  all  Hellas  failed  in  detecting 
him.  For,  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  he  was  about  seventy  years 
old  at  his  death,  forty  of  which  \vere  spent  in  the  practice 
of  his  profession ;  and  during  all  that  time  he  had  a  good 
reputation,  which  to  this  day  he  retains  :  and  not  only  Prota 
goras,  but  many  others  have  a  good  reputation  ;  some  who 
92  lived  before  him,  and  others  who  are  still  living.  Now,  when 
you  say  that  they  deceived  and  corrupted  the  youth,  are  they 
to  be  supposed  to  have  corrupted  them  intentionally  or  unin 
tentionally?  Can  those  who  were  deemed  by  many  to  be  the 
wisest  men  of  Hellas  have  been  out  of  their  minds? 

Any.  Out  of  their  minds  !  No,  Socrates  ;  the  young  men 
who  gave  their  money  to  them  were  out  of  their  minds,  and 
their  relations  and  guardians  who  entrusted  them  to  their  care 
were  still  more  out  of  their  minds,  and  most  of  all  the  cities 
who  allowed  them  to  come  in  and  did  not  drive  them  out, 
citizen  or  stranger  alike. 

Soc.  Has  any  of  the  Sophists  wronged  you,  Anytus?  What 
makes  you  so  angry  with  them  ? 

Any.  No,  indeed,  neither  I  nor  any  of  my  belongings  has 
ever  had,  nor  would  I  suffer  them  to  have,  anything  to  do  with 

Soc.  Then  you  are  entirely  unacquainted  with  them  ? 

Any.  And  I  have  no  wish  to  be  acquainted. 

Soc.  Then,  my  dear  friend,  how  can  you  know  whether  a 
thing  is  good  or  bad  of  which  you  are  wholly  ignorant  ? 

Any.  Quite  well  ;  I  am  quite  sure  that  I  know  what  manner 
of  men  these  arc,  whether  I  know  them  or  not. 

Soc.  You  must  be  a  diviner,  Anytus,  for  I  really  cannot  make 

296  MENO. 

out,  judging  from  your  own  words,  how,  if  you  are  not  ac 
quainted  with  them,  you  know  about  them.  But  I  am  not 
enquiring  of  you  who  are  the  teachers  who  will  corrupt  Meno 
(let  them  be,  if  you  please,  the  Sophists);  I  only  ask  you  to 
tell  him  who  there  is  in  this  great  city  who  will  teach  him  how 
to  become  eminent  in  the  virtues  which  I  was  just  now  de 
scribing.  He  is  the  friend  of  your  family,  and  you  will  oblige 

Any.  Why  do  not  you  tell  him  ? 

Soc.  I  have  told  him  whom  I  supposed  to  be  the  teachers  of 
these  things  ;  but  I  learn  from  you  that  I  am  utterly  at  fault, 
and  I  dare  say  that  you  are  right.  And  now  I  wish  that  you, 
on  your  part,  would  tell  me  to  whom  among  the  Athenians  he 
should  go.  Whom  would  you  name  ? 

Any.  Why  single  out  individuals?  Any  Athenian  gentleman, 
taken  at  random,  if  he  will  mind  him,  will  do  him  far  more 
good  than  the  Sophists. 

Soc.  And  did  those  gentlemen  grow  of  themselves  ;  and  with 
out   having   been    taught  by  any  one,   were   they  nevertheless 
able  to  teach  others  that  which  they  had  never  learned  them-  93 
selves  ?  ' 

Any.  I  imagine  that  they  learned  of  the  previous  generation  of 
gentlemen.  Have  there  not  been  many  good  men  in  this  city  ? 

Soc.  Yes,  certainly,  Anytus  ;  and  many  good  statesmen  also 
there  always  have  been  and  there  are  still,  in  the  city  of 
Athens.  But  the  question  is  whether  they  were  also  good 
teachers  of  their  own  virtue  ; — not  whether  there  are,  or  have 
been,  good  men,  but  whether  virtue  can  be  taught,  is  the  ques 
tion  which  we  have  been  discussing.  Now,  do  we  mean  to  say 
that  the  good  men  of  our  own  and  of  other  times  knew  how  to 
impart  to  others  that  virtue  which  they  had  themselves ;  or  is 
virtue  a  thing  incapable  of  being  communicated  or  imparted  by 
one  man  to  another?  That  is  the  question  which  I  and  Meno 
have  been  arguing.  Look  at  the  matter  in  your  own  way  : 
Would  you  not  admit  that  Themistocles  was  a  good  man  ? 

Any.  Certainly;  no  man  better. 

Soc.  And  must  not  he  then  have  been  a  good  teacher,  if  any 
man  ever  was  a  good  teacher,  of  his  own  virtue  ? 

Any.  Yes,  certainly,— if  he  wanted  to  be  that. 

ME  NO.  297 

Soc.  But  would  he  not  have  wanted  ?  He  would,  at  any 
rate,  have  desired  to  make  his  own  son  a  good  man  and  a 
gentleman  ;  he  could  not  have  been  jealous  of  him,  or  have  in 
tentionally  abstained  from  imparting  to  him  his  own  virtue. 
Did  you  never  hear  that  he  made  Cleophantus,  who  was  his 
son,  a  famous  horseman? — he  would  stand  upright  on  horse 
back  and  hurl  a  javelin  ;  and  many  other  marvellous  things  he 
could  do  which  his  father  had  him  taught ;  and  in  anything 
which  the  skill  of  a  master  could  teach  him  he  was  well  trained. 
Have  you  not  heard  from  our  elders  of  this  ? 

Any.  I  have. 

Soc.  Then  no  one  could  say  that  his  son  showed  any  want 
of  capacity  ? 

Any.  Possibly  not. 

Soc.  But  did  any  one,  old  or  young,  ever  say  in  your  hearing 
that  Cleophantus,  son  of  Themistocles,  was  a  wise  or  good  man, 
as  his  father  was? 

Any.  I  have  certainly  never  heard  that. 

Soc.  And  if  virtue  could  have  been  taught,  would  his  father 
Themistocles  have  sought  to  train  him  in  these  minor  accom 
plishments,  and  allowed  him  who,  as  you  must  remember,  was 
his  own  son,  to  be  no  better  than  his  neighbours  in  those  quali 
ties  in  which  he  himself  excelled  ? 

Any.  Indeed,  indeed,  I  think  not. 

Soc.  Here  then  is  a  teacher  of  virtue  whom  you  admit  to  be 
94  among  the.  best  men  of  the  past.  Let  us  take  another, — Aris- 
tides,  the  son  of  Lysimachus  :  would  you  not  acknowledge  that 
he  was  a  good  man  ? 

Any.  To  be  sure  I  should. 

Soc.  And  did  not  he  train  his  son  Lysimachus  better  than 
any  other  Athenian  in  all  that  could  be  done  for  him  by  the 
help  of  masters  ?  But  what  has  been  the  result  ?  Is  he  a  bit 
better  than  any  other  mortal?  He  is  an  acquaintance  of  yours, 
and  you  see  what  he  is  like.  There  is  Pericles,  again,  magni 
ficent  in  his  wisdom  ;  and  he,  as  you  know,  had  two  sons, 
Paralus  and  Xanthippus. 

Any.  I  know. 

Soc.  And  you  know,  also,  that  he  taught  them  to  be  un 
rivalled  horsemen,  and  had  them  trained  in  music  and  gym- 

298  MENO, 

nasties  and  all  sorts  of  arts  —  in  these  respects  they  were  on 
a  level  with  the  best— and  had  he  no  wish  to  make  good  men 
of  them  ?  Nay,  he  must  have  wished  that.  But  ^suspect  that 
virtue  could  not  be  taught.  And  that  you  may  not  suppose 
that  the  incompetent  teachers  are  the  meaner  sort  of  Athe 
nians  and  few  in  number,  remember  again  that  Thucydides  had 
two  sons,  Melesias  and  Stephanus,  whom  he  trained  chiefly  in 
wrestling  ;  and  they  too  had  an  excellent  education,  and  were 
the  best  wrestlers  in  Athens  :  one  of  them  he  committed  to 
the  care  of  Xanthias,  and  the  other  of  Eudorus,  who  had  the 
reputation  of  being  the  most  celebrated  wrestlers  of  that  day. 
Do  you  remember  them? 

Any.  I  have  heard  of  them. 

Soc.  Now,  can  there  be  a  doubt  that  Thucydides,  who  had 
his  children  taught  wrestling  at  a  considerable  expense,  would 
have  taught  them  to  be  good  men,  which  would  have  cost  him 
nothing,  if  virtue  could  have  been  taught?  Will  you  reply  that 
he  was  a  mean  man,  and  had  not  many  friends  among  the 
Athenians  and  allies  ?  Nay,  but  he  was  of  a  great  family,  and 
a  man  of  influence  at  Athens  and  in  all  Hellas,  and,  if  virtue 
could  have  been  taught,  he  would  have  found  out  some  one 
either  in  or  out  of  Hellas  who  would  have  made  good  men  of 
his  sons,  if  he  could  not  himself  spare  the  time  from  cares  of 
state.  Again,  I  suspect,  friend  Anytus,  that  virtue  is  not  a 
thing  which  can  be  taught? 

Any.  Socrates,  I  think  that  you  are  too  ready  to  speak  evil 
of  men  :  and,  if  you  will  take  my  advice,  I  would  recommend 
you  to  be  careful.  Perhaps  there  is  no  city  in  which  it  is  not 
easier  to  do  men  harm  than  to  do  them  good,  and  this  is  cer 
tainly  the  case  at  Athens,  as  I  believe  that  you  know.  95 

Soc.  O  Meno,  I  think  that  Anytus  is  in  a  rage.  And  he  may 
well  be  in  a  rage,  for  he  thinks,  in  the  first  place,  that  I  am 
defaming  these  gentlemen  ;  and  then,  in  the  second  place,  he 
thinks  that  he  is  one  of  them.  But  when  he  understands,  which 
he  does  not  at  present,  what  is  the  meaning  of  defamation,  he 
will  forgive  me.  Meanwhile  I  will  return  to  you,  Meno  ;  for  I 
suppose  that  there  are  gentlemen  in  your  region  too  ? 

Men.  Certainly  there  are. 

Soc.  And   are    they   willing    to   teach    the    young?    and    do 

MENO.  299 

they  profess  to  be  teachers  ?  and  do  they  agree  that  virtue  is 
taught  ? 

Men.  No,  indeed,  Socrates,  they  are  anything  but  agreed  ; 
and  you  may^  hear  them  saying  at  one  time  that  virtue  can  be 
taught,  and  then  again  the  reverse. 

Soc.  Can  we  call  them  teachers  who  do  not  acknowledge  the 
possibility  of  their  own  vocation  ? 

Men.  I  think  not,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  what  do  you  think  of  these  Sophists,  who  are  the 
only  professors  ?  Do  they  seem  to  you  to  be  teachers  of  virtue  ? 

Men.  I  often  wonder,  Socrates,  that  Gorgias  is  never  heard 
promising  to  teach  virtue :  and  when  he  hears  others  promising 
he  only  laughs  at  them  ;  but  he  thinks  that  men  should  be 
taught  to  speak. 

Soc.  Then  do  you  not  think  that  the  Sophists  are  teachers? 

Men.  I  cannot  tell  you,  Socrates  ;  like  the  rest  of  the  world,  I 
am  in  doubt,  and  sometimes  I  think  that  they  are  teachers  and 
sometimes  not. 

Soc.  And  are  you  aware  that  not  you  only  and  other  political 
men  have  doubts  whether  virtue  can  be  taught  or  not,  but  that 
Theognis  the  poet  says  the  very  same  thing — are  you  aware 
of  that? 

Men.  Where  does  he  say  so? 

Soc.  In  these  elegiac  verses  :l — 

'  Eat  and  drink  and  sit  with  the  mighty,  and  make  yourself  agreeable  to 
them  ;  for  from  the  good  you  will  learn  what  is  good,  but  if  you  mix  with 
the  bad  you  will  lose  the  intelligence  which  you  already  have.' 

Do  you  observe  that  here  he  seems  to  imply  that  virtue  can  be 
taught  ? 

Men.  Clearly. 

Soc.  But  in  some  other  verses  he  shifts  about  and  says  : 2— 
'  If  .understanding  could  be  created  and  put  into  a  man,  then  they  (who 
were  able  to  accomplish  this)  would  have  obtained  great  rewards.' 

And  again  : — 

0,6  'Never  would  a  bad  son  have  sprung  from  a  good  sire,  for  he  would  have 
heard  the  voice  of  instruction  ;  but  not  by  teaching  will  you  ever  make  a  bad 
man  into  a  good  one.' 

And  this,  as  you  may  remark,  is  a  contradiction  of  the  other. 
1  Theog.  33  if.  -  Theog.  435  ff. 

300  MENO. 

Men.  That  is  palpable. 

Soc.  And  is  there  anything  else  of  which  the  professors  are 
not  only  asserted  not  to  be  teachers  of  others,  but  to  be  ignorant 
themselves,  and  bad  at  the  knowledge  of  that  which  they  profess 
to  teach,  and  about  which  the  acknowledged  'gentlemen'  are 
themselves  saying  sometimes  that  'this  thing  can  be  taught,' 
and  sometimes  the  opposite?  Can  you  say  that  they  are  teachers 
in  any  true  sense  whose  ideas  are  in  this  state  of  confusion  ? 

Men.  I  should  say,  certainly  not. 

Soc.  But  if  neither  the  Sophists  nor  the  gentlemen  are 
teachers,  clearly  there  can  be  no  other  teachers  ? 

Men.  No. 

Soc.  And  if  there  are  no  teachers,  neither  are  there  disciples  ? 

Men.  Agreed. 

Soc.  And  we  have  admitted  that  a  thing  cannot  be  taught  of 
which  there  are  neither  teachers  nor  disciples  ? 

Men.  We  have. 

Soc.  And  there  are  no  teachers  of  virtue  to  be  found  any 
where  ? 

Men.  There  are  not. 

Soc.  And  if  there  are  no  teachers,  neither  are  there  scholars  ? 

Men.  That,  I  think,  is  true. 

Soc.  Then  virtue  cannot  be  taught? 

Men.  Not  if  we  are  right  in  our  view.  But  I  cannot  believe, 
Socrates,  that  there  are  no  good  men.  And  if  there  are,  how 
did  they  come  into  existence? 

Soc.  I  am  afraid,  Meno,  that  you  and  I  are  not  good  for 
much,  and  that  Gorgias  has  been  as  poor  an  educator  of  you  as 
Prodicus  has  been  of  me.  Certainly  we  shall  have  to  look  to 
ourselves,  and  try  to  find  some  one  who  will  help  in  some  way 
or  other  to  improve  us.  This  I  say,  because  I  observe  that  in 
the  previous  discussion  none  of  us  remarked  that  right  and  good 
action  is  possible  to  man  under  other  guidance  than  that  of 
knowledge  ;— and  indeed  if  this  be  denied,  there  is  no  seeing 
how  there  can  be  any  good  men  at  all. 

Men.  How  do  you  mean,  Socrates? 

Soc.  I  mean  this — that  good  men  must  necessarily  be  useful 
or  profitable.  Were  we  not  right  in  admitting  that  ?  97 

Men.  Yes. 

MENO.  301 

Soc.  And  in  supposing-  that  they  will  be  useful  only  if  they 
are  true  guides  of  action — in  that  we  were  also  right  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  But  we  do  not  seem  to  have  been  right  in  saying  that 
knowledge  only  was  the  right  and  good  guide  of  action. 

Men.  What  do  you  mean  by  the  word  'right'? 

Soc.  I  will  explain.  If  a  man  knew  the  way  to  Larisa,  or 
anywhere  else,  and  went  to  the  place  and  led  others  thither, 
would  he  not  be  a  right  and  good  guide? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  a  person  who  had  a  right  opinion  about  the  way, 
but  had  never  been  and  did  not  know,  might  be  a  good  guide 
also,  might  he  not? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  while  he  has  true  opinion  about  that  which  the 
other  knows,  he  will  be  just  as  good  a  guide  if  he  thinks  the 
truth,  as  if  he  knows  the  truth  ? 

Men.  Exactly. 

Soc.  Then  true  opinion  is  as  good  a  guide  to  correct  action 
as  wisdom  ;  and  that  was  the  point  which  we  omitted  in  our 
speculation  about  the  nature  of  virtue,  when  we  said  that 
wisdom  only  is  the  guide  of  right  action  ;  whereas  there  is 
also  right  opinion. 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  Then  right  opinion  is  not  less  useful  than  knowledge? 

Men.  The  difference,  Socrates,  is  only  that  he  who  has  know-  , 
ledge  will  always  be  right ;  but  he  who  has  right  opinion  will  \J 
sometimes  be  right,  and  sometimes  not  right. 

Soc.  What  do  you  mean  ?  Can  he  be  wrong  who  has  right 
opinion,  as  long  as  he  has  right  opinion? 

Men.  I  admit  the  cogency  of  that,  and  therefore,  Socrates,  I 
wonder  that  knowledge  should  be  preferred  to  right  opinion— 
or  why  they  should  ever  differ. 

Soc.  And  shall  I  explain  this  wonder  to  you  ? 

Men.  Do  tell  me. 

Soc.  You  would  not  wonder  if  you  had  ever  observed  the 
images  of  Daedalus  ;  but  perhaps  you  have  not  got  them  in 
your  country  ? 

Men.  Why  do  you  refer  to  them  ? 

302  MENO. 

Soc.  Because  they  require  to  be  fastened  in  order  to  keep 
them,  and  if  they  are  not  fastened  they  will  run  away. 

Men.  Well,  what  of  that  ? 

Soc.  I  mean  to  say  that  they  are  not  very  valuable  pos 
sessions  if  they  are  at  liberty,  for  they  will  walk  off  like  runaway 
slaves  ;  but  when  fastened,  they  are  of  great  value,  for  they  are 
really  beautiful  works  of  art.  Now  this  is  an  illustration  of  the 
nature  of  true  opinions :  while  they  abide  with  us  they  are  98 
beautiful  and  fruitful,  but  they  run  away  out  of  the  human  soul, 
and  do  not  remain  long,  and  therefore  they  are  not  of  much 
value  until  they  are  fastened  by  the  tie  of  the  cause  ;  and  this 
fastening  of  them,  friend  Meno,  is  recollection,  as  has  been 
already  agreed  by  us.  But  when  they  are  bound,  in  the  first 
place,  they  have  the  nature  of  knowledge  ;  and,  in  the  second 
place,  they  are  abiding.  And  this  is  why  knowledge  is  more 
honourable  and  excellent  than  true  opinion,  because  fastened  by 
a  chain. 

Men.  Yes,  indeed,  Socrates,  that  I  should  conjecture  to  be 
the  truth. 

Soc.  I  too  speak  not  as  one  who  knows  ;  and  yet  that  know 
ledge  differs  from  true  opinion  is  not  a  matter  of  conjecture 
with  me.  There  are  not  many  things  which  I  should  affirm  that 
I  knew,  but  that  is  most  certainly  one  of  them. 

Men.  You  are  right,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  am  I  not  right  also  in  saying  that  true  opinion  is 
as  good  a  guide  in  the  performance  of  an  action  as  knowledge  ? 

Men.  That  also  appears  to  me  to  be  true. 

Soc.  Then  right  opinion  is  not  a  whit  inferior  to  knowledge, 
or  less  useful  in  action  ;  nor  is  the  man  who  has  right  opinion 
inferior  to  him  who  has  knowledge? 

Men.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  And  surely  the  good  man  has  been  acknowledged  by  us 
to  be  useful? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Seeing  then  that  men  become  good  and  useful  to  states, 
not  only  because  they  have  knowledge,  but  because  they  have 
right  opinion,  and  that  neither  knowledge  nor  right  opinion  is 
given  to  man  by  nature  or  acquired  by  him — (do  you  imagine 
either  of  them  to  be  given  by  nature  ? 

MENO.  303 

Men.  Not  I.) 

Soc.  Then  if  they  are  not  given  by  nature,  neither  are  the 
good  by  nature  good  ? 

Men.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  And  nature  being  excluded,  then  came  the  question 
whether  virtue  is  acquired  by  teaching? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  If  virtue  was  wisdom,  then,  as  we  thought,  it  was 
taught  ? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  if  it  was  taught  it  was  wisdom  ? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  if  there  were  teachers,  it  might  be  taught ;  and  if 
there  were  no  teachers,  not  ? 

Men.  True. 

Soc.  But  surely  we  acknowledged  that  there  were  no  teachers 
of  virtue? 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  we  acknowledged  that  it  was  not  taught,  and  was 
not  wisdom  ? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  yet  we  admitted  that  it  was  a  good  ? 

Men.  Yes. 
99      Soc.  And  the  right  guide  is  useful  and  good? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And    the   only    right    guides    are    knowledge    and    true 
opinion — these  are  the  guides  of  man  ;  for  things  which  happen    v 
by  chance  are  not  under  the  guidance  of  man  :   but  the  guides  \ 
of  man  are  true  opinion  and  knowledge. 

Men.  I  think  so  too.  . 

Soc.  But  if  virtue  is  not  taught,  neither  is  virtue  knowledge. 

Men.  Clearly  not. 

Soc.  Then  of  two  good  and  useful  things,  one,  which  is  know 
ledge,  has  been  set  aside,  and  cannot  be  supposed  to  be  our 
guide  in  political  life. 

Men.  I  think  not. 

Soc.  And  therefore  not  by  any  wisdom,  and  not  because  they 
were  wise,  did  Themistocles  and  those  others  of  whom  Anytus 
spoke  govern  states.  And  this  was  the  reason  why  they  were 


504  MENO. 

unable   to    make  others    like  themselves — because   their  virtue 
was  not  grounded  on  knowledge. 

Men.  That  is  probably  true,  Socrates. 

Soc.  But  if  not  by  knowledge,  the  only  alternative  which  re 
mains  is  that  statesmen  must  have  guided  states  by  right 
opinion,  which  is  in  politics  what  divination  is  in  religion  ;  for 
diviners  and  also  prophets  say  many  things  truly,  but  they 
know  not  what  they  say. 

Men.  Very  true. 

Soc.  And  may  we  not,  Meno,  truly  call  those  men  divine  who, 
having  no  understanding,  yet  succeed  in  many  a  grand  deed  and 
word  ? 

Men.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Then  we  shall  also  be  right  in  calling  those  divine  whom 
we  were  just  now  speaking  of  as  diviners  and  prophets,  in 
cluding  the  whole  tribe  of  poets.  Yes,  and  statesmen  above  all 
may  be  said  to  be  divine  and  illumined,  being  inspired  and 
possessed  of  God,  in  which  condition  they  say  many  grand 
things,  not  knowing  what  they  say. 

Men.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  the  women  too,  Meno,  call  good  men  divine ;  and 
the  Spartans,  when  they  praise  a  good  man,  say  'that  he  is  a 
divine  man.' 

Men.  And  I  think,  Socrates,  that  they  are  right  ;  although 
very  likely  our  friend  Anytus  may  take  offence  at  the  word. 

Soc.  I  do  not  care  ;  as  for  Anytus,  there  will  be  another 
opportunity  of  talking  with  him.  To  sum  up  our  enquiry — the 
result  seems  to  be,  if  we  are  at  all  right  in  our  view,  that  virtue 
is  neither  natural  nor  acquired,  but  an  instinct  given  by  God  to 
the  virtuous.  Nor  is  the  instinct  accompanied  by  reason,  unless  100 
there  may  be  supposed  to  be  among  statesmen  any  one  who  is 
also  the  educator  of  statesmen.  And  if  there  be  such  an  one, 
he  may  be  said  to  be  among  the  living  what  Tiresias  was 
among  the  dead,  who  'alone,'  according  to  Homer,  'of  those  in 
the  world  below,  has  understanding ;  but  the  rest  flit  as  shades ;' 
and  he  and  his  virtue  in  like  manner  will  be  a  reality  among 

Men.  That  is  excellent,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Then,  Meno,  the  conclusion  is  that  virtue  comes  to  the 



virtuous  by  the  gift  of  God.  But  we  shall  never  know  the 
certain  truth  until,  before  asking  how  virtue  is  given,  we  enquire 
into  the  actual  nature  of  virtue.  I  fear  that  I  must  go  away, 
but  do  you,  now  that  you  are  persuaded  yourself,  persuade  our 
friend  Anytus.  And  do  not  let  him  be  so  exasperated ;  for  if 
you  can  conciliate  him,  you  will  have  done  some  service  to  the 
Athenian  people. 

VOL.  I.  X 


X   2 


I!N'  the  Meno  Anytus  had  parted  from  Socrates  with  the  significant 
words :  '  That  in  any  city,  and  particularly  in  the  city  of  Athens,  it  is 
easier  to  do  men  harm  than  to  do  them  good'  (94  E) ;  and  Socrates 
was  anticipating  another  opportunity  of  talking  with  him  (99  E).  In  the 
Euthyphro  Socrates  is  awaiting  his  trial  for  impiety.  But  before  the 
trial  begins,  Plato  would  like  to  put  the  world  on  their  trial,  and  convince 
them  of  ignorance  in  that  very  matter  touching  which  Socrates  is  accused. 
An  incident  which  may  perhaps  really  have  occurred  in  the  family  of 
Euthyphro,  a  learned  Athenian  diviner  and  soothsayer,  furnishes  the 
occasion  of  the  discussion. 

This  Euthyphro  and  Socrates  are  represented  as  meeting  in  the  porch 
of  the  King  Archon.  (Cp.  Theaet.  sub  fin.)  Both  have  legal  business  in 
hand.  Socrates  is  defendant  in  a  suit  for  impiety  which  Meletus  has 
brought  against  him  (it  is  remarked  by  the  way  that  he  is  not  a  likely 
man  himself  to  have  brought  a  suit  against  another) ;  and  Euthyphro  too 
is  plaintiff  in  an  action  for  murder,  which  he  has  brought  against  his 
own  father.  The  latter  has  originated  in  the  following  manner : — 
A  poor  dependant  of  the  family  had  slain  one  of  their  domestic  slaves 
in  Naxos.  The  guilty  person  was  bound  and  thrown  into  a  ditch  by 
the  command  of  Euthyphro's  father,  who  sent  to  the  interpreters  of 
religion  at  Athens  to  ask  what  should  be  done  with  him.  Before  the 
messenger  came  back  the  criminal  had  died  from  hunger  and  exposure. 
This  is  the  origin  of  the  charge  of  murder  which  Euthyphro  brings 
against  his  father.  Socrates  is  confident  that  before  he  could  have 
undertaken  the  responsibility  of  such  a  prosecution,  he  must  have  been 
perfectly  informed  of  the  nature  of  piety  and  impiety;  and  as  he  is 
going  to  be  tried  for  impiety  himself,  he  thinks  that  he  cannot  do  better 


than  learn  of  Euthyphro  (who  will  be  admitted  by  all  men,  including  the 
judges,  to  be  an  unimpeachable  authority)  what  piety  is,  and  what  is 
impiety.  What  then  is  piety  ? 

Euthyphro,  who,  in  the  abundance  of  his  knowledge,  is  very  willing  to 
undertake  all  the  responsibility,  replies  :  That  piety  is  doing  as  I  do, 
prosecuting  your  father  (if  he  is  guilty)  on  a  charge  of  murder ;  doing 
as  the  gods  do — as  Zeus  did  to  Cronos,  and  Cronos  to  Uranus. 

Socrates  has  a  dislike  to  these  tales  of  mythology,  and  he  fancies  that 
this  dislike  of  his  may  be  the  reason  why  he  is  charged  with  impiety. 
'  Are  they  really  true  ? '  '  Yes,  they  are ; '  and  Euthyphro  will  gladly  tell 
Socrates  some  more  of  them.  But  Socrates  would  like  first  of  all  to 
have  a  more  satisfactory  answer  to  the  question,  'What  is  piety?' 
'  Doing  as  I  do,  charging  a  father  with  murder,'  may  be  a  single  instance 
of  piety,  but  can  hardly  be  regarded  as  a  general  definition. 

Euthyphro  replies,  that  '  Piety  is  what  is  dear  to  the  gods,  and  impiety 
is  what  is  not  dear  to  them.'  But  may  there  not  be  differences  of 
opinion,  as  among  men,  so  also  among  the  gods?  Especially,  about 
good  and  evil,  which  have  no  fixed  rule ;  and  these  are  precisely  the 
sort  of  differences  which  give  rise  to  quarrels.  And  therefore  what 
may  be  dear  to  one  god  may  not  be  dear  to  another,  and  the  same 
action  may  be  both  pious  and  impious ;  e.  g.  your  chastisement  of  your 
father,  Euthyphro,  may  be  dear  or  pleasing  to  Zeus  (who  inflicted  a 
similar  chastisement  on  his  own  father),  but  not  equally  pleasing  to 
Cronos  or  Uranus  (who  suffered  at  the  hands  of  their  sons). 

Euthyphro  answers  that  there  is  no  difference  of  opinion,  either 
among  gods  or  men,  as  to  the  propriety  of  punishing  a  murderer. 
Yes,  rejoins  Socrates,  when  they  know  him  to  be  a  murderer ;  but  that 
assumes  the  point  at  issue.  If  all  the  circumstances  of  the  case  are 
considered,  are  you  able  to  show  that  your  father  was  guilty  of  murder, 
or  that  all  the  gods  are  agreed  in  approving  of  your  prosecution  of  him  ? 
And  must  you  not  allow  that  what  is  hated  by  one  god  may  be  liked  by 
another?  Waiving  this  last,  however,  Socrates  proposes  to  amend  the 
definition,  and  say  that  '  what  all  the  gods  love  is  pious,  and  what  they 
all  hate  is  impious/  To  this  Euthyphro  agrees. 

Socrates  proceeds  to  analyze  the  new  form  of  the  definition.  He 
shows  that  in  other  cases  the  act  precedes  the  state ;  e.  g.  the  act  of 
being  carried,  loved,  &c.,  precedes  the  state  of  being  carried,  loved,  &c., 
and  therefore  that  which  is  dear  to  the  gods  is  dear  to  the  gods  because 


it  is  first  loved  of  them,  not  loved  of  them  because  it  is  dear  to  them. 
But  the  pious  or  holy  is  loved  by  the  gods  because  it  is  pious  or  holy, 
which  is  equivalent  to  saying,  that  it  is  loved  by  them  because  it  is  dear 
to  them.  Here  then  appears  to  be  a  contradiction, — Euthyphro  has 
been  giving  an  attribute  or  accident  of  piety  only,  and  not  the  essence. 
Euthyphro  acknowledges  himself  that  his  explanations  seem  to  walk 
away  or  go  round  in  a  circle,  like  the  moving  figures  of  Daedalus,  the 
ancestor  of  Socrates,  who  has  communicated  his  art  to  his  descendants. 

Socrates,  who  is  desirous  of  stimulating  the  indolent  intelligence  of 
Euthyphro,  raises  the  question  in  another  manner:  'Is  all  the  pious 
just  ? '  '  Yes.'  '  Is  all  the  just  pious  ? '  '  No/  '  Then  what  part  of 
justice  is  piety  ? '  Euthyphro  replies  that  piety  is  that  part  of  justice 
which  'attends'  to  the  gods,  as  there  is  another  part  of  justice  which 
'  attends '  to  men.  But  what  is  the  meaning  of  '  attending '  to  the  gods  ? 
The  word  '  attending,'  when  applied  to  dogs,  horses,  and  men,  implies 
that  in  some  way  they  are  made  better.  But  how  do  pious  or  holy 
acts  make  the  gods  any  better?  Euthyphro  explains  that  he  means  by 
pious  acts,  acts  of  service  or  ministration.  Yes ;  but  the  ministrations 
of  the  husbandman,  the  physician,  and  the  builder  have  an  end.  To 
what  end  do  we  serve  the  gods,  and  what  do  we  help  them  to 
accomplish  ?  Euthyphro  replies,  that  all  these  difficult  questions  cannot 
be  resolved  in  a  short  time ;  and  he  would  rather  say  simply  that  piety 
is  knowing  how  to  please  the  gods  in  word  and  deed,  by  prayers  and 
sacrifices.  In  other  words,  says  Socrates,  piety  is  '  a  science  of  asking 
and  giving ' — asking  what  we  want  and  giving  what  they  want ;  in  short, 
a  mode  of  doing  business  between  gods  and  men.  But  although  they 
are  the  givers  of  all  good,  how  can  we  give  them  any  good  in 
return  ?  *  Nay,  but  we  give  them  honour.'  Then  we  give  them  not 
what  is  beneficial,  but  what  is  pleasing  or  dear  to  them ;  and  this  is  what 
has  been  already  disproved. 

Socrates,  although  weary  of  the  subterfuges  and  evasions  of  Euthy 
phro,  remains  unshaken  in  his  conviction  that  he  must  know  the  nature 
of  piety,  or  he  would  never  have  prosecuted  his  old  father.  He  is  still 
hoping  that  he  will  condescend  to  instruct  him.  But  Euthyphro  is  in 
a  hurry  and  cannot  stay.  And  Socrates'  last  hope  of  knowing  the 
nature  of  piety  before  he  is  prosecuted  for  impiety  has  disappeared. 

The  Euthyphro  is  manifestly  designed  to  contrast  the  real  nature  of 


piety  and  impiety  with  the  popular  conceptions  of  them.  But  when  the 
popular  conceptions  of  them  have  been  overthrown,  Socrates  does  not 
offer  any  definition  of  his  own :  as  in  the  Laches  and  Lysis,  he  prepares 
the  way  for  an  answer  to  the  question  which  he  has  raised ;  but  true  to 
his  own  character,  refuses  to  answer  himself. 

Euthyphro  is  a  religionist,  and  is  elsewhere  spoken  of  as  the  author  of 
a  philosophy  of  names,  by  whose  'prancing  steeds'  Socrates  in  the 
Cratylus  is  carried  away  (p.  396).  He  has  the  conceit  and  self-confidence 
of  a  Sophist ;  no  doubt  that  he  is  right  in  prosecuting  his  father  has  ever 
entered  into  his  mind.  Like  a  Sophist  too,  he  is  incapable  either  of 
framing  a  general  definition  or  of  following  the  course  of  an  argument. 
But  he  is  not  a  bad  man,  and  he  is  friendly  to  Socrates,  whose  familiar 
sign  he  recognizes  with  interest.  Though  unable  to  follow  him  he  is  very 
willing  to  be  led  by  him,  and  eagerly  catches  at  any  suggestion  which 
saves  him  from  the  trouble  of  thinking.  Moreover  he  is  the  enemy  of 
Meletus,  who,  as  he  says,  is  availing  himself  of  the  popular  dislike  to 
innovations  in  religion  in  order  to  injure  Socrates ;  at  the  same  time  he 
is  amusingly  confident  that  he  has  weapons  in  his  own  armoury  which 
would  be  more  than  a  match  for  him.  He  is  quite  sincere  in  his 
prosecution  of  his  father,  who  has  accidentally  been  guilty  of  homicide, 
and  is  not  wholly  free  from  blame.  To  purge  away  the  crime  appears 
to  him  in  the  light  of  a  duty,  whoever  may  be  the  criminal. 

Thus  begins  the  contrast  between  the  religion  of  the  letter,  or  of  the 
narrow  and  unenlightened  conscience,  and  the  higher  notion  of  religion 
which  Socrates  vainly  endeavours  to  elicit  from  him.  '  Piety  is  doing  as 
I  do '  is  the  first  idea  of  religion  which  is  suggested  to  his  mind,  and  to 
that  of  many  others  who  do  not  say  what  they  think  with  equal  frankness. 
For  men  are  not  easily  persuaded  that  any  other  religion  is  better  than 
their  own  ;  or  that  other  nations,  e.  g.  the  Greeks  in  the  time  of  Socrates, 
were  equally  serious  in  their  religious  beliefs  and  difficulties.  The  chief 
difference  between  us  and  them,  is  that  they  were  slowly  learning  what 
we  are  in  process  of  forgetting.  Greek  mythology  hardly  admitted  of 
the  distinction  between  accidental  homicide  and  murder:  that  the 
pollution  of  blood  was  the  same  in  both  cases  is  also  the  feeling  of  the 
Athenian  diviner.  He  had  not  as  yet  learned  the  lesson,  which  philosophy 
was  teaching,  that  Homer  and  Hesiod,  if  not  banished  from  the  state,  or 
whipped  out  of  the  assembly,  as  Heraclitus  more  rudely  proposed,  at  any 
rate  were  not  to  be  appealed  to  as  authorities  in  religion ;  and  he  is 

INTR  OD  UCTION.  3 1 3 

ready  to  defend  his  conduct  by  the  examples  of  the  gods.  These  are 
the  very  tales  which  Socrates  cannot  abide ;  and  his  dislike  of  which, 
as  he  suspects,  has  branded  him  with  the  reputation  of  impiety.  Here 
is  one  answer  to  the  question,  '  Why  Socrates  was  put  to  death/  sug 
gested  by  the  way.  Another  is  conveyed  in  the  words,  '  The  Athenians 
do  not  care  about  any  man  being  thought  wise  until  he  begins  to  make 
other  men  wise;  and  then  for  some  reason  or  other  they  are  angry:' 
which  may  be  said  to  be  the  rule  of  popular  toleration  in  most  other 
countries,  and  not  at  Athens  only.  In  the  course  of  the  argument 
(7  A,  B)  Socrates  remarks  that  the  controversial  nature  of  morals  and 
religion  arises  out  of  the  difficulty  of  verifying  them.  There  is  no  measure 
or  standard  to  which  they  can  be  referred. 

The  next  definition,  '  Piety  is  that  which  is  loved  of  the  gods/  is 
shipwrecked  on  a  refined  distinction  between  the  state  and  the  act, 
corresponding  respectively  to  the  adjective  .(<f>lXov)  and  the  participle 
(</uAou/iei/oz/),  or  rather  perhaps  to  the  participle  and  the  verb  (^uXou/zei/ov 
and  </HAemu).  The  act  is  prior  to  the  state  ;  and  the  state  of  being  loved 
is  preceded  by  the  act  of  being  loved,  but  piety  or  holiness  is  preceded 
by  the  act  of  being  pious,  not  by  the  act  of  being  loved ;  and  therefore 
piety  and  the  state  of  being  loved  are  different.  Through  such  subtleties 
of  dialectic  Socrates  is  working  his  way  into  a  deeper  region  of  thought 
and  feeling.  He  means  to  say  that  the  words  '  loved  of  the  gods  ' 
express  an  attribute  only,  and  not  the  essence  of  piety. 

Then  follows  the  third  and  last  definition,  '  Piety  is  a  part  of  justice/ 
Thus  far  Socrates  has  proceeded  in  placing  religion  on  a  moral  foundation. 
He  is  seeking  to  realize  the  harmony  of  religion  and  morality,  which  the 
great  poets  ^Eschylus,  Sophocles,  and  Pindar  had  unconsciously  antici 
pated,  and  which  is  the  universal  want  of  all  men.  To  this  the  soothsayer 
adds  the  ceremonial  element, /  attending  upon  the  gods/  When  further 
interrogated  by  Socrates  as  to  the  nature  of  this  '  attention  to  the  gods/ 
he  replies,  that  piety  is  an  affair  of  business,  a  science  of  giving  and 
asking,  and  the  like.  Socrates  points  out  the  anthropomorphism  of  these 
notions.  (Cp.  Politicus,  290  C,  D;  Rep.  ii.  365  E;  Sym.  202  E.) 
But  when  we  expect  him  to  go  on  and  show  that  the  true,  service  of  the 
gods  is  the  service  of  the  spirit  and  the  co-operation  with  them  in  all 
things  true  and  good,  he  stops  short ;  this  was  a  lesson  which  the 
soothsayer  could  not  have  been  made  to  understand,  and  which  every 
one  must  learn  for  himself. 


There  seem  to  be  altogether  three  aims  or  interests  in  this  little 
Dialogue:  (i)  the  dialectical  development  of  the  idea  of  piety;  (2)  the 
antithesis  of  true  and  false  religion,  which  is  carried  to  a  certain  extent 
only;  (3)  the  defence  of  Socrates. 

The  subtle  connection  with  the  Apology  and  the  Crito ;  the  holding 
back  of  the  conclusion,  as  in  the  Charmides,  Lysis,  Laches,  Protagoras, 
and  other  Dialogues;  the  deep  insight  into  the  religious  world;  the 
dramatic  power  and  play  of  the  two  characters ;  the  inimitable  irony,  are 
reasons  for  believing  that  the  Euthyphro  is  a  genuine  Platonic  writing.  The 
spirit  in  which  the  popular  representations  of  mythology  are  denounced 
recalls  Republic  II  (378  if.).  The  virtue  of  piety  has  been  already  men 
tioned  as  one  of  five  in  the  Protagoras,  but  is  not  reckoned  among 
the  four  cardinal  virtues  of  Republic  IV  (428  if.).  The  figure  of  Dae 
dalus  (15  C)  has  occurred  in  the  Meno  (97  D);  that  of  Proteus  (15  D) 
in  the  Euthydemus  (288  E)  and  lo  (541  E).  The  kingly  science  has 
already  appeared  in  the  Euthydemus,  and  will  reappear  in  the  Republic 
and  Statesman.  But  neither  from  these  nor  any  other  indications  of 
similarity  or  difference,  and  still  less  from  arguments  respecting  the 
suitableness  of  this  little  work  to  aid  Socrates  at  the  time  of  his  trial 
or  the  reverse,  can  any  evidence  of  the  date  be  obtained. 



SCENE  : — The  Porch  of  the  King  Archon. 

Steph.  Euthyphro.  WHY  have  you  left  the  Lyceum,  Socrates?  and 
what  are  you  doing  in  the  porch  of  the  King  Archon  ?  Surely 
you  cannot  be  engaged  in  an  action  before  the  king,  as  I  am. 

Socrates.  Not  in  an  action,  Euthyphro ;  impeachment  is  the 
word  which  the  Athenians  use. 

Euth.  What !  I  suppose  that  some  one  has  been  prosecuting 
you,  for  I  cannot  believe  that  you  are  the  prosecutor  of  another. 

Soc.  Certainly  not. 

Euth.  Then  some  one  else  has  been  prosecuting  you  ? 

Soc.  Yes. 

Euth.  And  who  is  he? 

Soc.  A  young  man  who  is  little  known,  Euthyphro  ;  and  I 
hardly  know  him  :  his  name  is  Meletus,  and  he  is  of  the  deme 
of  Pitthis.  Perhaps  you  may  remember  his  appearance  ;  he  has 
a  beak,  and  long  straight  hair,  and  a  beard  which  is  ill  grown. 

Euth.  No,  I  do  not  remember  him,  Socrates.  But  what  is 
the  charge  which  he  brings  against  you  ? 

Soc.  What  is  the  charge?  Well,  a  very  serious  charge,  which 
shows  a  good  deal  of  character  in  the  young  man,  and  for  which 
he  is  certainly  not  to  be  despised.  He  says  he  knows  how  the 
youth  are  corrupted  and  who  arc  their  corruptors.  I  fancy  that 
he  must  be  a  wise  man,  and  seeing  that  I  am  anything  but  a 
wise  man,  he  has  found  me  out,  and  is  going  to  accuse  me  of 


corrupting  his  young  friends.  And  of  this  our  mother  the  state 
is  to  be  the  judge.  Of  all  our  political  men  he  is  the  only  one 
who  seems  to  me  to  begin  in  the  right  way,  with  the  cultivation 
of  virtue  in  youth  ;  like  a  good  husbandman,  he  makes  the 
young  shoots  his  first  care,  and  clears  away  us  who  are  the  3 
destroyers  of  them.  That  is  the  first  step ;  he  will  afterwards 
attend  to  the  elder  branches  ;  and  if  he  goes  on  as  he  has  begun, 
he  will  be  a  very  great  public  benefactor. 

EutJi.  I  hope  that  he  may ;  but  I  rather  fear,  Socrates,  that 
the  reverse  will  turn  out  to  be  the  truth.  My  opinion  is  that 
in  attacking  you  he  is  simply  aiming  a  blow  at  the  state  in  a 
sacred  place.  But  in  what  way  does  he  say  that  you  corrupt 
the  young  ? 

Soc.  He  brings  a  wonderful  accusation  against  me,  which  at 
first  hearing  excites  surprise  :  he  says  that  I  am  a  poet  or  maker 
of  gods,  and  that  I  make  new  gods  and  deny  the  existence  of 
old  ones  ;  this  is  the  ground  of  his  indictment. 

EutJi.  I  understand,  Socrates ;  he  means  to  attack  you  about 
the  familiar  sign  which  occasionally,  as  you  say,  comes  to  you. 
He  thinks  that  you  are  a  neologian,  and  he  is  going  to  have 
you  up  before  the  court  for  this.  He  knows  that  such  a  charge 
is  readily  received  by  the  world.  I  can  tell  you  that,  for  when 
I  myself  speak  in  the  assembly  about  divine  things,  and  foretell 
the  future  to  them,  they  laugh  at  me  as  a  madman  ;  and  yet 
every  word  that  I  say  is  true.  But  they  are  jealous  of  all  of 
us.  I  suppose  that  we  must  be  brave  and  not  mind  them. 

Soc.  Their  laughter,  friend  Euthyphro,  is  not  a  matter  of 
much  consequence.  For  a  man  may  be  thought  wise ;  but 
the  Athenians,  I  suspect,  do  not  trouble  themselves  about  him 
until  he  begins  to  impart  his  wisdom  to  others  ;  and  then  for 
some  reason  or  other,  perhaps,  as  you  say,  from  jealousy,  they 
are  angry. 

EutJi.  I  am  never  likely  to  try  their  temper  in  this  way. 

Soc.  I  dare  say  not,  for  you  are  select  in  your  acquaintance, 
and  seldom  impart  your  wisdom.  But  I  have  a  benevolent 
habit  of  pouring  out  myself  to  everybody,  and  would  even  pay 
for  a  listener,  and  I  am  afraid  that  the  Athenians  know  this  ; 
and  therefore,  as  I  was  saying,  if  the  Athenians  would  only 
laugh  at  me  as  you  say  that  they  laugh  at  you,  the  time  might 


pass  gaily  enough  in  the  court ;  but  perhaps  they  may  be  in 
earnest,  and  then  what  the  end  will  be  you  soothsayers  only 
can  predict. 

EutJi.  I  dare  say  that  the  affair  will  end  in  nothing,  Socrates, 
and  that  you  will  win  your  cause  ;  and  I  think  that  I  shall  win 

Soc.  And  now  what  is  your  suit,  Euthyphro  ?  are  you  the 
pursuer  or  the  defendant  ? 

EutJi.  I  am  the  pursuer. 

Soc.  Of  whom  ? 

Euth.  You  will  think  me  mad  when  I  tell  you. 

Soc.  Why,  has  the  fugitive  wings? 

Euth.  Nay,  he  is  not  very  volatile  at  his  time  of  life. 

Soc.  Who  is  he? 

Euth.  My  father. 

Soc.  Your  father !    my  good  man  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  of  what  is  he  accused  ? 

Euth.  Of  murder,  Socrates. 

Soc.  By  the  powers,  Euthyphro !  how  little  does  the  common 
herd  know  of  the  nature  of  right  and  truth.  A  man  must  be 
an  extraordinary  man,  and  have  made  great  strides  in  wisdom, 
before  he  could  have  seen  his  way  to  this. 

Euth.  Indeed,  Socrates,  he  must  have  made  great  strides. 

Soc.  I  suppose  that  the  man  whom  your  father  murdered  was 
one  of  your  relatives ;  if  he  had  been  a  stranger  you  would 
never  have  thought  of  prosecuting  him. 

Euth.  I  am  amused,  Socrates,  at  your  making  a  distinction 
between  one  who  is  a  relation  and  one  who  is  not  a  relation  ; 
for  surely  the  pollution  is  the  same  in  either  case,  if  you 
knowingly  associate  with  the  murderer  when  you  ought  to  clear 
yourself  and  him  by  proceeding  against  him.  The  real  question 
is  whether  the  murdered  man  has  been  justly  slain.  If  justly, 
then  your  duty  is  to  let  the  matter  alone ;  but  if  unjustly,  then 
even  if  the  murderer  is  under  the  same  roof  with  you  and  eats 
at  the  same  table,  proceed  against  him.  Now  the  man  who  is 
dead  was  a  poor  dependant  of  mine  who  worked  for  us  as  a 
field  labourer  at  our  farm  in  Naxos,  and  one  day  in  a  fit  of 
drunken  passion  he  got  into  a  quarrel  with  one  of  our  domestic 


servants  and  slew  him.  My  father  bound  him  hand  and  foot 
and  threw  him  into  a  ditch,  and  then  sent  to  Athens  to  ask  of 
a  diviner  what  he  should  do  with  him.  Meantime  he  had  no 
care  or  thought  of  him,  being  under  the  impression  that  he  was 
a  murderer ;  and  that  even  if  he  did  die  there  would  be  no  great 
harm.  And  this  was  just  what  happened.  For  such  was  the 
effect  of  cold  and  hunger  and  chains  upon  him,  that  before  the 
messenger  returned  from  the  diviner,  he  was  dead.  And  my 
father  and  family  are  angry  with  me  for  taking  the  part  of  the 
murderer  and  prosecuting  my  father.  They  say  that  he  did  not 
kill  him,  and  that  if  he  did,  the  dead  man  was  but  a  murderer, 
and  I  ought  not  to  take  any  notice,  for  that  a  son  is  impious 
who  prosecutes  a  father.  Which  shows,  Socrates,  how  little  they 
know  of  the  opinions  of  the  gods  about  piety  and  impiety. 

Soc.  Good  heavens,  Euthyphro !  and  have  you  such  a  precise 
knowledge  of  piety  and  impiety,  and  of  divine  things  in  general, 
that,  supposing  the  circumstances  to  be  as  you  state,  you  are 
not  afraid  that  you  too  may  be  doing  an  impious  thing  in 
bringing  an  action  against  your  father? 

Euth.  The  best  of  Euthyphro,  and   that  which  distinguishes 
him,  Socrates,  from  other  men,  is  his   exact  knowledge  of  all  5 
these  matters.     What  should  I  be  good  for  without  that  ? 

Soc.  Rare  friend  !  I  think  that  I  cannot  do  better  than  be 
your  disciple.  Then  before  the  trial  with  Meletus  comes  on  I 
shall  challenge  him,  and  say  that  I  have  always  had  a  great 
interest  in  religious  questions,  and  now,  as  he  charges  me  with 
rash  imaginations  and  innovations  in  religion,  I  have  become 
your  disciple.  You,  Meletus,  as  I  shall  say  to  him,  acknowledge 
Euthyphro  to  be  a  great  theologian,  and  sound  in  his  opinions  ; 
and  if  you  approve  of  him  you  ought  to  approve  of  me,  and 
not  have  me  into  court ;  but  if  you  disapprove,  you  should 
begin  by  indicting  him  who  is  my  teacher,  and  who  is  the  real 
corruptor,  not  of  the  young,  but  of  the  old  ;  that  is  to  say,  of 
myself  whom  he  instructs,  and  of  his  old  father  whom  he  ad 
monishes  and  chastises.  And  if  Meletus  refuses  to  listen  to  me, 
but  will  go  on,  and  will  not  shift  the  indictment  from  me  to 
you,  I  cannot  do  better  than  repeat  this  challenge  in  the 

Euth.  Yes,  Socrates  ;    and  if  he  attempts  to  indict  me  I  am 


mistaken  if  I  do  not  find  a  flaw  in  him  ;  the  court  shall  have  a 
great  deal  more  to  say  to  him  than  to  me. 

Soc.  And  I,  my  dear  friend,  knowing  this,  am  desirous  of 
becoming  your  disciple.  For  I  observe  that  no  one  appears 
to  notice  you — not  even  this  Meletus ;  but  his  sharp  eyes  have 
found  me  out  at  once,  and  he  has  indicted  me  for  impiety. 
And  therefore,  I  adjure  you  to  tell  me  the  nature  of  piety 
and  impiety,  which  you  said  that  you  knew  so  well,  and  of 
murder,  and  the  rest  of  them.  What  are  they  ?  Is  not  piety 
in  every  action  always  the  same?  and  impiety,  again,  is  not 
that  always  the  opposite  of  piety,  and  also  the  same  with 
itself,  having,  as  impiety,  one  notion  which  includes  whatever 
is  impious  ? 

Euth.  To  be  sure,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  what  is  piety,  and  what  is  impiety  ? 

Euth.  Piety  is  doing  as  I  am  doing ;  that  is  to  say,  prose 
cuting  any  one  who  is  guilty  of  murder,  sacrilege,  or  of  any 
similar  crime — whether  he  be  your  father  or  mother,  or  who 
ever  he  may  be,  that  makes  no  difference — and  not  prosecuting 
them  is  impiety.  And  please  to  consider,  Socrates,  what  a 
notable  proof  I  will  give  you  of  the  truth  of  what  I  am  saying, 
which  I  have  already  given  to  others  : — of  the  principle,  I  mean, 
that  the  impious,  whoever  he  may  be,  ought  not  to  go  un 
punished.  For  do  not  men  regard  Zeus  as  the  best  and  most 
6  righteous  of  the  gods  ? — and  yet  they  admit  that  he  bound  his 
father  (Cronos)  because  he  wickedly  devoured  his  sons,  and 
that  he  too  had  punished  his  own  father  (Uranus)  for  a  similar 
reason,  in  a  nameless  manner.  And  yet  when  I  proceed  against 
my  father,  they  are  angry  with  me.  So  inconsistent  are  they  in 
their  way  of  talking  when  the  gods  are  concerned,  and  when  I 
am  concerned. 

Soc.  May  not  this  be  the  reason,  Eut,hyphro,  why  I  am 
charged  with  impiety— that  I  cannot  away  with  these  stories 
about  the  gods?  and  therefore  I  suppose  that  people  think  me 
wrong.  But,  as  you  who  are  well  informed  about  them  approve 
of  them,  I  cannot  do  better  than  assent  to  your  superior  wisdom. 
For  what  else  can  I  say,  confessing  as  I  do,  that  I  know  nothing 
about  them  ?  I  wish  you  would  tell  me  whether  you  really  be 
lieve  that  they  are  true. 


Euth.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  and  things  more  wonderful  still,  of  which 
the  world  is  in  ignorance. 

Soc.  And  do  you  really  believe  that  the  gods  fought  with  one 
another,  and  had  dire  quarrels,  battles,  and  the  like,  as  the  poets 
say,  and  as  you  may  see  represented  in  the  works  of  great 
artists  ?  The  temples  are  full  of  them  ;  and  notably  the  robe 
of  Athene,  which  is  carried  up  to  the  Acropolis  at  the  great 
Panathenaea,  is  embroidered  with  them.  Are  all  these  tales  of 
the  gods  true,  Euthyphro? 

Euth.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  and,  as  I  was  saying,  I  can  tell  you,  if 
you  would  like  to  hear  them,  many  other  things  about  the  gods 
which  would  quite  amaze  you. 

Soc.  I  dare  say ;  and  you  shall  tell  me  them  at  some  other 
time  when  I  have  leisure.  But  just  at  present  I  would  rather 
hear  from  you  a  more  precise  answer,  which  you  have  not  as 
yet  given,  my  friend,  to  the  question,  What  is  '  piety '  ?  In  reply, 
you  only  say  that  piety  is,  Doing  as  you  do,  charging  your 
father  with  murder. 

Euth.  And  that  is  true,  Socrates. 

Soc.  I  dare  say,  Euthyphro,  but  there  are  many  other  pious 

Euth.  There  are. 

Soc.  Remember  that  I  did  not  ask  you  to  give  me  two  or  three 

examples  of  piety,  but  to  explain  the  general  idea  which  makes 

all  pious  things  to  be  pious.    Do  you  not  recollect  that  there  was 

one  idea  which  made  the  impious  impious,  and  the  pious  pious  ? 

Euth.  I  remember. 

Soc.  Tell  me  what  you  mean,  and  then  I  shall  have  a  standard 
to  which  I  may  look,  and  by  which  I  may  measure  the  nature 
of  actions,  whether  yours  or  any  one's  else,  and   say  that  this 
action  is  pious,  and  that  impious. 
Euth.  I  will  tell  you,  if  you  like. 
Soc.  I  should  very  much  like. 

Euth.  Piety,  then,  is  that  which  is  dear  to  the  gods,  and  im 
piety  is  that  which  is  not  dear  to  them. 

Soc.  Very  good,  Euthyphro  ;  you  have  now  given  me  the  sort  7 
of  answer  which  I  wanted.     But  whether  what  you  say  is  true 
or  not  I  cannot  as  yet  tell,  although  I  make  no  doubt  that  you 
will  prove  the  truth  of  your  words. 


Euth.  Of  course. 

Soc.  Come,  then,  and  let  us  examine  what  we  are  saying. 
That  thing  or  person  which  is  dear  to  the  gods  is  pious,  and 
that  thing  or  person  which  is  hateful  to  the  gods  is  impious. 
Was  not  that  said? 

Enth.  Yes,  that  was  said. 

Soc.  And  that  seems  to  have  been  very  well  said  too  ? 

Euth.  Yes,  Socrates,  I  think  so  ;   it  was  certainly  said. 

Soc.  And  further,  Euthyphro,  the  gods  were  admitted  to  have 
enmities  and  hatreds  and  differences — that  was  also  said  ? 

EutJi.  Yes,  that  was  said. 

Soc.  And  what  sort  of  difference  creates  enmity  and  anger? 
Suppose  for  example  that  you  and  I,  my  good  friend,  differ 
about  a  number ;  do  differences  of  this  sort  make  us  enemies 
and  set  us  at  variance  with  one  another?  Do  we  not  go  at  once 
to  calculation,  and  end  them  by  a  sum  ? 

Euth.  True. 

Soc.  Or  suppose  that  we  differ  about  magnitudes,  do  we  not 
quickly  put  an  end  to  that  difference  by  measuring? 

Enth.  That  is  true. 

Soc.  And  we  end  a  controversy  about  heavy  and  light  by  re 
sorting  to  a  weighing-machine? 

Euth.  To  be  sure. 

Soc.  But  what  differences  are  those  which,  because  they  cannot 
be  thus  decided,  make  us  angry  and  set  us  at  enmity  with  one 
another?  I  dare  say  the  answer  does  not  occur  to  you  at  the 
moment,  and  therefore  I  will  suggest  that  this  happens  when 
the  matters  of  difference  are  the  just  and  unjust,  good  and  evil, 
honourable  and  dishonourable.  Are  not  these  the  points  about 
which,  when  differing,  and  unable  satisfactorily  to  decide  our 
differences,  you  and  I  and  all  men  quarrel,  when  we  do 
quarrel  ? 

Euth.  Yes,  Socrates,  that  is  the  nature  of  the  differences  about 
which  we  quarrel. 

Soc.  And  the  quarrels  of  the  gods,  noble  Euthyphro,  when 
they  occur,  are  of  a  like  nature? 

Euth.  They  are. 

Soc.  They  have  differences  of  opinion,  as  you  say,  about  good 
and  evil,  just  and  unjust,  honourable  and  dishonourable  :  there 

VOL.  I.  Y 


would  have  been  no  quarrels  among  them,  if  there  had  been  no 
such  differences — would  there  now? 

Euth.  You  are  quite  right. 

Soc.  Does  not  every  man  love  that  which  he  deems  noble  and 
just  and  good,  and  hate  the  opposite  of  them  ? 

Euth.  Very  true. 

Soc.  But,  as  you  say,  people  regard  the  same  things,  some 
as  just  and  others  as  unjust ;  about  which  they  dispute  ;  and  so 
there  arise  wars  and  fightings  among  them. 

Euth.  Yes,  that  is  true. 

Soc.  Then  the  same  things,  as  appears,  are  hated  by  the  gods 
and  loved  by  the  gods,  and  are  both  hateful  and  dear  to  them  ? 

Euth.  True. 

Soc.  And  upon  this  view  the  same  things,  Euthyphro,  will  be 
pious  and  also  impious? 

Etith.  That,  I  suppose,  is  true. 

Soc.  Then,  my  friend,  I  remark  with  surprise  that  you  have 
not  answered  what  I  asked.  For  I  certainly  did  not  ask  you  to 
tell  me  what  was  that  which  is  both  pious  and  impious:  and  now 
what  is  loved  by  the  gods  appears  also  to  be  hated  by  them. 
And  therefore,  Euthyphro,  in  thus  chastising  your  father  you  may 
very  likely  be  doing  what  is  agreeable  to  Zeus  but  disagreeable 
to  Cronos  or  Uranus,  and  what  is  acceptable  to  Hephaestus  but 
unacceptable  to  Here,  and  there  may  be  other  gods  who  have 
similar  differences  of  opinion. 

Euth.  But  I  believe,  Socrates,  that  all  the  gods  would  be 
agreed  as  to  the  propriety  of  punishing  a  murderer :  there  would 
be  no  difference  of  opinion  about  that. 

Soc.  Well,  but  speaking  of  men,  Euthyphro,  did  you  ever  hear 
any  one  arguing  that  a  murderer  or  any  sort  of  evil-doer  ought 
to  be  let  off? 

Euth.  I  should  rather  say  that  these  are  the  questions  which 
they  are  always  arguing,  especially  in  courts  of  law :  they 
commit  all  sorts  of  crimes,  and  there  is  nothing  which  they  will 
not  do  or  say  in  order  to  escape  punishment.  • 

Soc.  But  do  they  admit  their  guilt,  Euthyphro,  and  yet  say 
that  they  ought  not  to  be  punished  ? 

Euth.  No ;  they  do  not. 

Soc.  Then  there  are  some  things  which  they  do  not  venture 


to  say  and  do  :  for  they  do  not  venture  to  argue  that  the  guilty 
are  to  be  unpunished,  but  they  deny  their  guilt,  do  they  not  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  they  do  not  argue  that  the  evil-doer  should  not  be 
punished,  but  they  argue  about  the  fact  of  who  the  evil-doer  is, 
and  what  he  did  and  when  ? 

Euth.  True. 

Soc.  And  the  gods  are  in  the  same  case,  if  as  you  assert  they 
quarrel  about  just  and  unjust,  and  some  of  them  say  that  there 
is  injustice  done  among  them,  and  others  of  them  deny  this. 
For  surely  neither  God  nor  man  will  ever  venture  to  say  that 
the  doer  of  evil  is  not  to  be  punished  ? 

Euth.  That  is  true,  Socrates,  in  the  main. 

Soc.  But  they  join  issue  about  particulars  ;  and  this  applies 
not  only  to  men  but  to  the  gods,  who,  if  they  dispute  at  all, 
dispute  about  some  act  which  is  called  in  question,  and  which 
some  affirm  to  be  just,  others  to  be  unjust.  Is  not  that  true? 

Euth.  Quite  true. 

9  Soc.  Well  then,  my  dear  friend  Euthyphro,  do  tell  me,  for  my 
better  instruction  and  information,  what  proof  have  you  that  in 
the  opinion  of  all  the  gods  a  servant  who  is  guilty  of  murder, 
and  is  put  in  chains  by  the  master  of  the  dead  man,  and  dies 
because  he  is  put  in  chains  before  his  corrector  can  learn  from 
the  interpreters  what  he  ought  to  do  with  him,  dies  unjustly; 
and  that  on  behalf  of  such  an  one  a  son  ought  to  proceed 
against  his  father  and  accuse  him  of  murder.  How  would  you 
show  that  all  the  gods  absolutely  agree  in  approving  of  his  act  ? 
Prove  to  me  that,  and  I  will  applaud  your  wisdom  as  long  as 
you  live. 

Euth.  That  would  not  be  an  easy  task,  although  I  could  make 
the  matter  very  clear  indeed  to  you. 

Soc.  I  understand  ;  you  mean  to  say  that  I  am  not  so  quick 
of  apprehension  as  the  judges  :  for  to  them  you  will  be  sure  to 
prove  that  the  act  is  unjust,  and  hateful  to  the  gods. 

Euth.  Yes  indeed,  Socrates  ;  at  least  if  they  will  listen  to  me. 

Soc.  But  they  will  be  sure  to  listen  if  they  find  that  you  are 
a  good  speaker.  There  was  a  notion  that  came  into  my  mind 
while  you  were  speaking;  I  said  to  myself:  'Well,  and  what  if 
Euthyphro  does  prove  to  me  that  all  the  gods  regarded  the 

Y  2 


death  of  the  serf  as  unjust,  how  do  I  know  anything  more  of  the 
nature  of  piety  and  impiety  ?  for  granting  that  this  action  may 
be  hateful  to  the  gods,  still  these  distinctions  have  no  bearing 
on  the  definition  of  piety  and  impiety,  for  that  which  is  hateful 
to  the  gods  has  been  shown  to  be  also  pleasing  and  dear  to 
them.'  And  therefore,  Euthyphro,  I  do  not  ask  you  to  prove 
this  ;  I  will  suppose,  if  you  like,  that  all  the  gods  condemn  and 
abominate  such  an  action.  But  I  will  amend  the  definition  so 
far  as  to  say  that  what  all  the  gods  hate  is  impious,  and  what 
they  love  pious  or  holy ;  and  what  some  of  them  love  and  others 
hate  is  both  or  neither.  Shall  this  be  our  definition  of  piety 
and  impiety? 

Euth.  Why  not,  Socrates  ? 

Soc.  Why  not !  certainly,  as  far  as  I  am  concerned,  Euthyphro, 
there  is  no  reason  why  not.  But  whether  this  admission  will 
greatly  assist  you  in  the  task  of  instructing  me  as  you  promised, 
is  a  matter  for  you  to  consider. 

Euth.  Yes,  I  should  say  that  what  all  the  gods  love  is  pious 
and  holy,  and  the  opposite  which  they  all  hate,  impious. 

Soc.  Ought  we  to  enquire  into  the  truth  of  this,  Euthyphro,  or 
simply  to  accept  the  mere  statement  on  our  own  authority  and 
that  of  others  ?  What  do  you  say  ? 

Euth.  We  should  enquire ;  and  I  believe  that  the  statement 
will  stand  the  test  of  enquiry. 

Soc.  That,  my  good   friend,  we  shall  know  better  in  a  little 
while.     The  point  which   I   should  first  wish   to  understand   is 
whether  the  pious  or  holy  is  beloved  by  the  gods  because  it  is  10 
holy,  or  holy  because  it  is  beloved  of  the  gods. 

Euth.  I  do  not  understand  your  meaning,  Socrates. 

Soc.  I  will  endeavour  to  explain  :  we  speak  of  carrying  and 
we  speak  of  being  carried,  of  leading  and  being  led,  seeing  and 
being  seen.  And  here  is  a  difference,  the  nature  of  which  you 

Euth.  I  think  that  I  understand. 

Soc.  And  is  not  that  which  is  beloved  distinct  from  that  which 
loves  ? 

Euth.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Well ;  and  now  tell  me,  is  that  which  is  carried  in  this 
state  of  carrying  because  it  is  carried,  or  for  some  other  reason  ? 


Euth.  No ;  that  is  the  reason. 

Soc.  And  the  same  is  true  of  that  which  is  led  and  of  that 
which  is  seen  ? 

Euth.  True. 

Soc.  And  a  thing  is  not  seen  because  it  is  visible,  but  con 
versely,  visible  because  it  is  seen  ;  nor  is  a  thing  led  because  it 
is  in  the  state  of  being  led,  or  carried  because  it  is  in  the  state 
of  being  carried,  but  the  converse  of  this.  And  now  I  think,  Eu- 
thyphro,  that  my  meaning  will  be  intelligible  ;  and  my  meaning 
is,  that  any  state  of  action  or  passion  implies  previous  action  or 
passion.  It  does  not  become  because  it  is  becoming,  but  it  is 
in  a  state  of  becoming  because  it  becomes ;  neither  does  it 
suffer  because  it  is  in  a  state  of  suffering,  but  it  is  in  a  state  of 
suffering  because  it  suffers.  Do  you  admit  that? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  Is  not  that  which  is  loved  in  some  state  either  of 
becoming  or  suffering? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  the  same  holds  as  in  the  previous  instances;  the 
state  of  being  loved  follows  the  act  of  being  loved,  and  not  the 
act  the  state. 

Eutk.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  what  do  you  say  of  piety,  Euthyphro  :  is  not  piety, 
according  to  your  definition,  loved  by  all  the  gods? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Svc.  Because  it  is  pious  or  holy,  or  for  some  other  reason? 

Euth.  No,  that  is  the  reason. 

Soc.  It  is  loved  because  it  is  holy,  not  holy  because  it  is 
loved  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  that  which  is  in  a  state  to  be  loved  of  the  gods,  and 
is  dear  to  them,  is  in  a  state  to  be  loved  of  them  becaude  it  is 
loved  of  them  ? 

Euth.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Then  that  which  is  loved  of  God,  Euthyphro,  is  not  holy, 
nor  is  that  which  is  holy  loved  of  God,  as  you  affirm  ;  but  they 
are  two  different  things. 

Euth.  How  do  you  mean,  Socrates? 

Soc.  I  mean  to  say  that  the  holy  has  been  acknowledged  by 


us  to  be  loved  of  God  because  it  is  holy,  not  to  be  holy  because 
it  is  loved. 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  But  that  which  is  dear  to  the  gods  is  dear  to  them 
because  it  is  loved  by  them,  not  loved  by  them  because  it  is 
dear  to  them. 

Euth.  True. 

Soc.  But,  friend  Euthyphro,  if  that  which  is  holy  is  the  same 
as  that  which  is  dear  to  God,  and  that  which  is  holy  is  loved 
as  being  holy,  then  that  which  is  dear  to  God  would  have  been 
loved  as  being  dear  to  God  ;  but  if  that  which  is  dear  to  God  is 
dear  to  him  because  loved  by  him,  then  that  which  is  holy 
would  have  been  holy  because  loved  by  him.  But  now  you 
see  that  the  reverse  is  the  case,  and  that  they  are  quite  different 
from  one  another.  For  one  (#eo<£iAes)  is  of  a  kind  to  be  loved 
because  it  is  loved,  and  the  other  (oa-iov)  is  loved  because  it  is 
of  a  kind  to  be  loved.  Thus  you  appear  to  me,  Euthyphro, 
when  I  ask  you  what  is  the  essence  of  holiness,  to  offer  an 
attribute  only,  and  not  the  essence — the  attribute  of  being  loved 
by  all  the  gods.  But  you  still  refuse  to  explain  to  me  the 
nature  of  holiness.  And  therefore,  if  you  please,  I  will  ask  you 
not  to  hide  your  treasure,  but  to  tell  me  once  more  what  holiness 
or  piety  really  is,  whether  dear  to  the  gods  or  not  (for  that 
is  a  matter  about  which  we  will  not  quarrel).  And  what  is 

Euth.  I  really  do  not  know,  Socrates,  how  to  say  what 
I  mean.  For  somehow  or  other  our  arguments,  on  what 
ever  ground  we  rest  them,  seem  to  turn  round  and  walk 

Soc.  Your  words,  Euthyphro,  are  like  the  handiwork  of  my 
ancestor  Daedalus ;  and  if  I  were  the  sayer  or  propounder  of 
them,  you  might  say  that  this  comes  of  my  being  his  relation ; 
and  that  this  is  the  reason  why  my  arguments  walk  away  and 
will  not  remain  fixed  where  they  are  placed.  But  now,  since 
these  notions  are  your  own,  you  must  find  some  other  gibe,  for 
they  certainly,  as  you  yourself  allow,  show  an  inclination  to  be 
on  the  move. 

Euth.  Nay,  Socrates,  I  shall  still  say  that  you  are  the 
Daedalus  who  sets  arguments  in  motion ;  not  I,  certainly,  but 


you  make  them  move  or  go  round,  for  they  would  never  have 
stirred,  as  far  as  I  am  concerned. 

Soc.  Then  I  must  be  a  greater  than  Daedalus ;  for  whereas  he 
only  made  his  own  inventions  to  move,  I  move  those  of  other 
people  as  well.  And  the  beauty  of  it  is,  that  I  would  rather 
not.  For  I  would  give  the  wisdom  of  Daedalus,  and  the  wealth 
of  Tantalus,  to  be  able  to  detain  them  and  keep  them  fixed. 
But  enough  of  this.  As  I  perceive  that  you  are  indolent,  I  will 
myself  endeavour  to  show  you  how  you  might  instruct  me  in 
the  nature  of  piety ;  and  I  hope  that  you  will  not  grudge 
your  labour.  Tell  me,  then, — Is  not  that  which  is  pious 
necessarily  just? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  is,  then,  all  which  is  just  pious  ?    or,  is  that  which 
12  is  pious  all  just,  but  that  which   is  just  only  in  part,  and  not 
all  pious? 

Euth.  I  do  not  understand  you,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  yet  I  know  that  you  are  as  much  wiser  than  I  am, 
as  you  are  younger.  But,  as  I  was  saying,  revered  friend,  the 
abundance  of  your  wisdom  makes  you  indolent.  Please  to 
exert  yourself,  for  there  is  no  real  difficulty  in  understanding 
me.  What  I  mean  I  may  explain  by  an  illustration  of  what 
I  do  not  mean.  The  poet  (Stasinus)  sings — 

'  Of  Zeus,  the  author  and  creator  of  all  these  things, 
You  will  not  tell :    for  where  there  is  fear  there  is  also  reverence.' 

And  I  disagree  with  this  poet.  Shall  I  tell  you  in  what  I 
disagree  ? 

Euth.  By  all  means. 

Soc.  I  should  not  say  that  where  there  is  fear  there  is  also 
reverence ;  for  I  am  sure  that  many  persons  fear  poverty  and 
disease,  and  the  like  evils,  but  I  do  not  perceive  that  they 
reverence  the  objects  of  their  fear. 

Euth.  Very  true. 

Soc.  But  where  reverence  is,  there  is  fear ;  for  he  who  has  a 
feeling  of  reverence  and  shame  about  the  commission  of  any 
action,  fears  and  is  afraid  of  an  ill  reputation. 

Euth.  No  doubt. 

Soc.  Then  we  are  wrong  in  saying  that  where  there  is  fear 
there  is  also  reverence ;  and  we  should  say,  where  there  is 


reverence  there  is  also  fear.  But  there  is  not  always  reverence 
where  there  is  fear ;  for  fear  is  a  more  extended  notion,  and 
reverence  is  a  part  of  fear,  just  as  the  odd  is  a  part  of  number, 
and  number  is  a  more  extended  notion  than  the  odd.  I  suppose 
that  you  follow  me  now? 

Euth.  Quite  well. 

Soc.  That  was  the  sort  of  question  which  I  meant  to  raise 
when  asking  whether  the  just  is  the  pious,  or  the  pious  the 
just ;  and  whether  there  may  not  be  justice  where  there  is  not 
always  piety ;  for  justice  is  the  more  extended  notion  of  which 
piety  is  only  a  part.  Do  you  agree  in  that? 

Euth.  Yes  ;  that,  I  think,  is  correct. 

j*>  Soc.  Then,  now,  if  piety  is  a  part  of  justice,  I  suppose  that 
we  should  enquire  what  part  ?  If  you  had  pursued  the  enquiry 
in  the  previous  cases  ;  for  instance,  if  you  had  asked  me  what 
is  an  even  number,  and  what  part  of  number  the  even  is,  I 
should  have  had  no  difficulty  in  replying,  a  number  which 
represents  a  figure  having  two  equal  sides.  Do  you  agree? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  In  like  manner,  I  want  you  to  tell  me  what  part  of 
justice  is  piety  or  holiness,  that  I  may  be  able  to  tell  Meletus 
not  to  do  me  injustice,  or  indict  me  for  impiety,  as  I  am  now 
adequately  instructed  by  you  in  the  nature  of  piety  or  holiness, 
and  their  opposites. 

Euth.  Piety  or  holiness,  Socrates,  appears  to  me  to  be  that 
part  of  justice  which  attends  to  the  gods,  as  there  is  the  other 
part  of  justice  which  attends  to  men. 

Soc.  That  is  good,  Euthyphro  ;  yet  still  there  is  a  little  point  13 
about  which  I  should  like  to  have  further  information,  What 
is  the  meaning  of  'attention'?  For  attention  can  hardly  be 
used  in  the  same  sense  when  applied  to  the  gods  as  when 
applied  to  other  things.  For  instance,  horses  are  said  to 
require  attention,  and  not  every  person  is  able  to  attend 
to  them,  but  only  a  person  skilled  in  horsemanship.  Is  not 
that  true? 

Euth.  Quite  true. 

Soc.  I  should  suppose  that  the  art  of  horsemanship  is  the  art 
of  attending  to  horses  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 


Sec.  Nor  is  every  one  qualified  to  attend  to  dogs,  but  only 
the  huntsman? 

EutJi.  True. 

Soc.  And  I  should  also  conceive  that  the  art  of  the  huntsman 
is  the  art  of  attending  to  dogs  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  As  the  art  of  the  oxherd  is  the  art  of  attending  to 
oxen  ? 

EutJi.  Very  true. 

Soc.  And  as  holiness  or  piety  is  the  art  of  attending  to  the 
gods  ? — that  would  be  your  meaning,  Euthyphro  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  is  not  attention  always  designed  for  the  good  or 
benefit  of  that  to  which  the  attention  is  given?  As  in  the  case 
of  horses,  you  may  observe  that  when  attended  to  by  the  horse 
man's  art  they  are  benefited  and  improved,  are  they  not? 

Euth.  True. 

Soc.  As  the  dogs  are  benefited  by  the  huntsman's  art,  and 
the  oxen  by  the  art  of  the  oxherd,  and  all  other  things  are 
tended  or  attended  for  their  good  and  not  for  their  hurt  ? 

Etith.  Certainly,  not  for  their  hurt. 

Soc.  But  for  their  good  ? 

EutJi.  Of  course. 

Soc.  And  does  piety  or  holiness,  which  has  been  defined  as 
the  art  of  attending  to  the  gods,  benefit  or  improve  them? 
Would  you  say  that  when  you  do  a  holy  act  you  make  any  of 
the  gods  better? 

Euth.  No,  no  ;  that  is  certainly  not  my  meaning. 

Soc.  Indeed,  Euthyphro,  I  did  not  suppose,  that  this  was 
your  meaning ;  far  otherwise.  And  I  asked  you  the  nature 
of  the  attention,  because  I  thought  that  you  could  not  mean 

EutJi.  You  do  me  justice,  Socrates ;  for  that  is  not  my 

Soc.  Good  :  but  I  must  still  ask  what  is  this  attention  to  the 
gods  which  is  called  piety? 

Euth.  It  is  such,  Socrates,  as  servants  show  to  their  masters. 

Soc.  I  understand — a  sort  of  ministration  to  the  gods. 

Euth.  Exactly. 


Soc.  Medicine  is  also  a  sort  of  ministration  or  service,  tending 
to  the  attainment  of  some  object — would  you  not  say  health  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  Again,  there  is  an  art  which  ministers  to  the  ship-builder 
with  a  view  to  the  attainment  of  some  result  ? 

EutJi.  Yes,  Socrates,  with  a  view  to  the  building  of  a  ship. 

Soc.  As  there  is  an  art  which  ministers  to  the  house-builder 
with  a  view  to  the  building  of  a  house  ? 

Euth.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  now  tell  me,  my  good  friend,  about  the  art  which 
ministers  to  the  gods  :  what  work  does  that  help  to  accomplish  ? 
For  you  must  surely  know  if,  as  you  say,  you  are  of  all  men 
living  the  one  who  is  best  instructed  in  religion. 

Eut/i.  And  that  is  true,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Tell  me  then,  oh  tell  me — what  is  that  fair  work  which 
the  gods  do  by  the  help  of  us  as  their  ministers  ? 

Euth.  Many  and  fair,  Socrates,  are  the  works  which  they  do. 

Soc.  Why,  my  friend,  and  so  are  those  of  a  general.     But  the  14 
chief  of  them  is  easily  told.     Would  you  not  say  that  victory  in 
war  is  the  chief  of  them  ? 

Euth.  Certainly. 

Soc.  Many  and  fair,  too,  are  the  works  of  the  husbandman, 
if  I  am  not  mistaken ;  but  his  chief  work  is  the  production  of 
food  from  the  earth  ? 

Euth.  Exactly. 

Soc.  And  of  the  many  and  fair  things  which  the  gods  do, 
which  is  the  chief  and  principal  one? 

EutJi.  I  have  told  you  already,  Socrates,  that  to  learn  all 
these  things  accurately  will  be  very  tiresome.  Let  me  simply 
say  that  piety  is  learning  how  to  please  the  gods  in  word  and 
deed,  by  prayers  and  sacrifices.  That  is  piety,  which  is  the 
salvation  of  families  and  states,  just  as  the  impious,  which  is 
unpleasing  to  the  gods,  is  their  ruin  and  destruction. 

Soc.  I  think  that  you  could  have  answered  in  much  fewer 
words  the  chief  question  which  I  asked,  Euthyphro,  if  you  had 
chosen.  But  I  see  plainly  that  you  are  not  disposed  to  instruct 
me :  else  why,  when  we  reached  the  point,  did  you  turn  aside  ? 
Had  you  only  answered  me  I  should  have  learned  of  you  by 
this  time  the  nature  of  piety.  Now,  as  the  asker  of  a  question 


is  necessarily  dependent  on  the  answerer,  whither  he  leads  I 
must  follow ;  and  can  only  ask  again,  what  is  the  pious,  and 
what  is  piety?  Do  you  mean  that  they  are  a  sort  of  science 
of  praying  and  sacrificing? 

Euth.  Yes,  I  do. 

Soc.  And  sacrificing  is  giving  to  the  gods,  and  prayer  is 
asking  of  the  gods  ? 

EzttJi.  Yes,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Upon  this  view,  then,  piety  is  a  science  of  asking  and 
giving  ? 

Euth.  You  understand  me  capitally,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Yes,  my  friend  ;  the  reason  is  that  I  am  a  votary  of  your 
science,  and  give  my  mind  to  it,  and  therefore  nothing  which 
you  say  will  be  thrown  away  upon  me.  Please  then  to  tell  me, 
what  is  the  nature  of  this  service  to  the  gods  ?  Do  you  mean 
that  we  prefer  requests  and  give  gifts  to  them  ? 

Euth.  Yes,  I  do. 

Soc.  Is  not  the  right  way  of  asking  to  ask  of  them  what  we 
want  ? 

EutJi.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  the  right  way  of  giving  is  to  give  to  them  in 
return  what  they  want  of  us.  There  would  be  no  meaning 
in  an  art  which  gives  to  any  one  that  which  he  does  not 

Euth.  Very  true,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Then  piety,  Euthyphro,  is  an  art  which  gods  and  men 
have  of  doing  business  with  one  another  ? 

Etith.  That  is  an  expression  which  you  may  use,  if  you 

Soc.  But  I  have  no  particular  liking  for  anything  but  the 
truth.  I  wish,  however,  that  you  would  tell  me  what  benefit 
accrues  to  the  gods  from  our  gifts.  There  is  no  doubt  about 
15  what  they  give  to  us  ;  for  there  is  no  good  thing  which  they  do 
not  give  ;  but  how  we  can  give  any  good  thing  to  them  in  re 
turn  is  far  from  being  equally  clear.  If  they  give  everything 
and  we  give  nothing,  that  must  be  an  affair  of  business  in  which 
we  have  very  greatly  the  advantage  of  them. 

Euth.  And  do  you  imagine,  Socrates,  that  any  benefit  accrues 
to  the  gods  from  what  they  receive  of  us  ? 


Soc.  But  if  not,  Euthyphro,  what  sort  of  gifts  do  we  confer 
upon  the  gods? 

Euth.  What  should  we  confer  upon  them,  but  tributes  of 
honour;  and,  as  I  was  just  now  saying,  what  is  grateful  to 
them  ? 

Soc.  Piety,  then,  is  grateful  to  the  gods,  but  not  beneficial  or 
dear  to  them? 

Euth.  I  should  say  that  nothing  could  be  dearer. 

Soc.  Then  once  more  the  assertion  is  repeated  that  piety  is 
dear  to  the  gods  ? 

Euth.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  when  you  say  this,  can  you  wonder  at  your  words 
not  standing  firm,  but  walking  away?  Will  you  accuse  me  of 
being  the  Daedalus  who  makes  them  walk  away,  not  perceiving 
that  there  is  another  and  far  greater  artist  than  Daedalus  who 
makes  them  go  round  in  a  circle,  and  that  is  yourself ;  for  the 
argument,  as  you  will  perceive,  comes  round  to  the  same  point. 
I  think  that  you  must  remember  our  saying  that  the  hply  or 
pious  was  not  the  same  as  that  which  is  loved  of  the  gods.  Do 
you  remember  that? 

Euth.  I  do. 

Soc.  And  are  you  not  saying  that  what  is  loved  of  the  gods 
is  holy,  but  this  is  the  same  as  what  is  dear  to  them — do  you 
see  that? 

EiitJi.  True. 

Soc.  Then  either  we  were  wrong  in  our  former  assertion  ;  or, 
if  we  were  right  then,  we  are  wrong  now. 

Euth.  I  suppose  that  is  the  case. 

Soc.  Then  we  must  begin  again  and  ask,  What  is  piety  ? 
That  is  an  enquiry  which  I  shall  never  be  weary  of  pursuing  as 
far  as  in  me  lies ;  and  I  entreat  you  not  to  scorn  me,  but  to 
apply  your  mind  to  the  utmost,  and  tell  me  the  truth.  For,  if 
any  man  knows,  you  are  he ;  and  therefore  I  shall  detain  you, 
like  Proteus,  until  you  tell.  For  if  you  had  not  certainly  known 
the  nature  of  piety  and  impiety,  I  am  confident  that  you  would 
never,  on  behalf  of  a  serf,  have  charged  your  aged  father  with 
murder.  You  would  not  have  run  such  a  risk  of  doing  wrong 
in  the  sight  of  the  gods,  and  you  would  have  had  too  much 
respect  for  the  opinions  of  men.  I  am  sure,  therefore,  that  you 


know  the  nature  of  piety  and  impiety.  Speak  out  then,  my  dear 
Euthyphro,  and  do  not  hide  your  knowledge. 

Euth.  Another  time,  Socrates ;  for  I  am  in  a  hurry,  and  must 
go  now. 

Soc.  Alas!  my  companion,  and  will  you  leave  me  in  despair? 
I  was  hoping  that  you  would  instruct  me  in  the  nature  of  piety 
and  impiety,  so  that  I  might  have  cleared  myself  of  Meletus 
and  his  indictment.  Then  I  might  have  proved  to  him  that 
1 6  I  had  been  converted  by  Euthyphro,  and  had  done  with  rash 
innovations  and  speculations,  in  which  I  had  indulged  through 
ignorance,  and  was  about  to  lead  a  better  life. 




IN  what  relation  the  Apology  of  Plato  stands  to  the  real  defence  of 
Socrates,  there  are  no  means  of  determining.  It  certainly  agrees  in  tone 
and  character  with  the  description  of  Xenophon,  who  says  in  the  Memo 
rabilia  (iv.  4,  4)  that  Socrates  might  have  been  acquitted  '  if  in  any 
moderate  degree  he  would  have  conciliated  the  favour  of  the  dicasts ; ' 
and  who  informs  us  in  another  passage  (iv.  8,  4),  on  the  testimony  of 
Hermogenes,  the  friend  of  Socrates,  that  he  had  no  wish  to  live  ;  and 
that  the  divine  sign  refused  to  allow  him  to  prepare  a  defence,  and  also 
that  Socrates  himself  declared  this  to  be  unnecessary,  on  the  ground  that 
all  his  life  long  he  had  been  preparing  against  that  hour.  For  the  speech 
breathes  throughout  a  spirit  of  defiance,  '  ut  non  supplex  aut  reus  seel 
magister  aut  dominus  videretur  esse  judicum '  (Cic.  de  Orat.  i.  54) ;  and 
the  loose  and  desultory  style  is  an  imitation  of  the  'accustomed  manner' 
in  which  Socrates  spoke  in  '  the  agora  and  among  the  tables  of  the  money 
changers.'  The  allusion  in  the  Crito  (45  B)  may,  perhaps,  be  adduced 
as  a  further  evidence  of  the  literal  accuracy  of  some  parts  (37  C,  D). 
But  in  the  main  it  must  be  regarded  as  the  ideal  of  Socrates,  according 
to  Plato's  conception  of  him,  appearing  in  the  greatest  and  most  public 
scene  of  his  life,  and  in  the  height  of  his  triumph,  when  he  is  weakest, 
and  yet  his  mastery  over  mankind  is  greatest,  and  his  habitual  irony 
acquires  a  new  meaning  and  a  sort  of  tragic  pathos  in  the  face  of 
death.  The  facts  of  his  life  are  summed  up,  and  the  features  of  his 
character  are  brought  out  as  if  by  accident  in  the  course  of  the  defence. 
The  conversational  manner,  the  seeming  w^ant  of  arrangement,  the 
ironical  simplicity,  are  found  to  result  in  a  perfect  work  of  art,  which 
is  the  portrait  of  Socrates. 

Yet  some  of  the  topics  may  have  been  actually  used  by  Socrates; 
and  the  recollection  of  his  very  words  may  have  rung  in  the  ears  of  his 
disciple.  The  Apology  of  Plato  may  be  compared  generally  with  those 

VOL.  T.  Z 

338  APOLOGY. 

speeches  of  Thucydides  in  which  he  has  embodied  his  conception  of  the 
lofty  character  and  policy  of  the  great  Pericles,  and  which  at  the  same 
time  furnish  a  commentary  on  the  situation  of  affairs  from  the  point  of 
view  of  the  historian.  So  in  the  Apology  there  is  an  ideal  rather  than 
a  literal  truth;  much  is  said  which  was  not  said,  and  is  only  Plato's  view 
of  the  situation.  Plato  was  not,  like  Xenophon,  a  chronicler  of  facts ;  he 
does  not  appear  in  any  of  his  writings  to  have  aimed  at  literal  accuracy. 
And  we  may  perhaps  even  indulge  in  the  fancy  that  the  actual  defence 
of  Socrates  was  as  much  greater  than  the  Platonic  defence  as  the  master 
was  greater  than  the  disciple.  But  in  any  case,  some  of  the  words 
actually  used  have  probably  been  preserved.  It  is  significant  that  Plato 
is  said  to  have  been  present  at  the  defence  (38  B),  as  he  is  also  said  to 
have  been  absent  at  the  last  scene  in  the  Phaedo  (59  B).  Is  it  fanciful 
to  suppose  that  he  meant  to  give  the  stamp  of  authenticity  to  the  one 
and  not  to  the  other? — especially  when  we  remember  that  these  two 
passages  are  the  only  ones  in  which  Plato  makes  mention  of  himself. 
The  circumstance  that  Plato  was  to  be  one  of  his  sureties  for  the  pay 
ment  of  the  fine  which  he  proposed,  is  not  likely  to  have  been  invented. 
Moreover,  the  Apology  appears  to  combine  the  common  characteristics 
both  of  the  Xenophontean  and  Platonic  Socrates,  while  the  Phaedo 
passes  into  a  region  of  thought  which  is  very  characteristic  of  Plato,  but 
not  of  his  master. 

There  is  not  much  in  the  other  Dialogues  which  can  be  compared 
with  the  Apology.  The  same  recollection  of  his  master  may  have  been 
present  to  the  mind  of  Plato  when  depicting  the  sufferings  of  the  Just  in 
the  Republic  (ii.  361  foil.,  vi.  500  A).  The  Crito  may  also  be  regarded 
as  a  sort  of  appendage  to  the  Apology,  in  which  Socrates,  who  has  defied 
the  judges,  is  nevertheless  represented  as  scrupulously  obedient  to  the 
laws.  The  idealization  of  the  sufferer  is  carried  still  further  in  the 
Gorgias  (476  foil.),  in  which  the  thesis  is  maintained,  that  'to  suffer  is 
better  than  to  do  evil ;'  and  the  art  of  rhetoric  is  described  as  only  useful 
for  the  purpose  of  self- accusation.  The  parallelisms  which  occur  in  the 
so-called  Apology  of  Xenophon  are  not  worth  noticing,  because  the 
writing  in  which  they  are  contained  is  manifestly  spurious.  The  state 
ments  of  the  Memorabilia  (i.  2,  iv.  8)  respecting  the  trial  and  death  of 
Socrates  agree  generally  with  Plato ;  but  they  have  lost  the  flavour  of 
Socratic  irony  in  the  narrative  of  Xenophon. 

The  Apology  or  Platonic  defence  of  Socrates  is  divided  into  three 


parts:  ist.  The  defence  properly  so  called;  2nd.  The  shorter  address  in 
mitigation  of  the  penalty;  3rd.  The  last  words  of  prophetic  rebuke  and 

The  first  part  commences  with  an  apology  for  his  colloquial  style ;  he 
is,  as  he  has  always  been,  the  enemy  of  rhetoric,  and  knows  of  no 
rhetoric  but  truth  ;  he  will  not  falsify  his  character  by  making  a  speech. 
Then  he  proceeds  to  divide  his  accusers  into  two  classes ;  first,  there  is 
the  nameless  accuser — public  opinion.  All  the  world  from  their  earliest 
years  had  heard  that  he  was  a  corruptor  of  youth,  and  had  seen  him 
caricatured  in  the  Clouds  of  Aristophanes.  Secondly,  there  are  the  pro 
fessed  accusers,  who  are  but  the  mouth-piece  of  the  others.  The  accusa 
tions  of  both  might  be  summed  up  in  a  formula.  The  first  say,  '  Socrates 
is  an  evil-doer  and  a  curious  person,  searching  into  things  under  the 
earth  and  above  the  heaven;  and  making  the  worse  appear  the  better 
cause,  and  teaching  all  this  to  others/  The  second,  '  Socrates  is  an 
evil-doer  and  corruptor  of  the  youth,  who  does  not  receive  the  gods 
whom  the  state  receives,  but  introduces  other  new  divinities.'  These 
last  appear  to  have  been  the  words  of  the  actual  indictment  (cp.  Xen. 
Mem.  i.  i),  of  which  the  previous  formula  is  a  parody. 

The  answer  begins  by  clearing  up  a  confusion.  In  the  representations 
of  the  Comic  poets,  and  in  the  opinion  of  the  multitude,  he  had  been 
identified  with  the  teachers  of  physical  science  and  with  the  Sophists. 
But  this  was  an  error.  For  both  of  them  he  professes  a  respect  in  the 
open  court,  which  contrasts  with  his  manner  of  speaking  about  them 
in  other  places.  (Cp.  for  Anaxagoras,  Phaedo  98  B,  Laws  xii.  967;  for  the 
Sophists  passim.}  But  at  the  same  time  he  shows  that  he  is  not  one 
of  them.  Of  natural  philosophy  he  knows  nothing;  not  that  he  despises 
such  pursuits,  but  the  fact  is  that  he  is  ignorant  of  them,  and  never 
says  a  word  about  them.  Nor  is  he  paid  for  giving  instruction — 
that  is  another  mistaken  notion ;  for  he  has  nothing  to  teach.  But  he 
commends  Evenus  for  teaching  virtue  at  such  a  moderate  rate.  Some 
thing  of  the  '  accustomed  irony,'  which  may  perhaps  be  expected  to 
sleep  in  the  ear  of  the  multitude,  is  lurking  here. 

He  then  goes  on  to  explain  the  reason  why  he  is  in  such  an  evil 
name.  That  had  arisen  out  of  a  peculiar  mission  which  he  had  taken 
upon  himself.  The  enthusiastic  Chaerephon  (probably  in  anticipation 
of  the  answer  which  he  received)  had  gone  to  Delphi  and  asked  the 
oracle  if  there  was  any  man  wiser  than  Socrates ;  and  the  answer  was, 

Z  2 

340  APOLOGY. 

that  there  was  no  man  wiser.  What  could  be  the  meaning  of  this — 
that  he  who  knew  nothing,  and  knew  that  he  knew  nothing,  should  be 
declared  by  the  oracle  to  be  the  wisest  of  men  ?  Reflecting  upon  this, 
he  determined  to  refute  the  oracle  by  finding  'a  wiser;'  and  first  he 
went  to  the  politicians,  and  then  to  the  poets,  and  then  to  the  crafts 
men,  but  always  with  the  same  result — he  found  that  they  knew  nothing, 
or  hardly  anything  more  than  himself;  and  that  the  little  advantage 
which  in  some  cases  they  possessed  was  more  than  counterbalanced  by 
their  conceit  of  knowledge.  He  knew  nothing,  and  knew  that  he  knew 
nothing :  they  knew  little  or  nothing,  arid  imagined  that  they  knew  all 
things.  Thus  he  had  passed  his  life  as  a  sort  of  missionary  in  detect 
ing  the  pretended  wisdom  of  mankind;  and  this  occupation  had  quite 
absorbed  him  and  taken  him  away  both  from  public  and  private  affairs. 
Young  men  of  the  richer  sort  had  made  a  pastime  of  the  same  pursuit, 
'  which  was  not  unamusing/  And  hence  bitter  enmities  had  arisen  ;  the 
professors  of  knowledge  had  revenged  themselves  by  calling  him  a 
villainous  corruptor  of  the  youth,  and  by  repeating  the  commonplaces 
about  atheism  and  materialism  and  sophistry,  which  are  the  stock- 
accusations  against  all  philosophers  when  there  is  nothing  else  to  be 
said  of  them. 

The  second  accusation  he  meets  by  interrogating  Meletus,  who  is 
present  and  can  be  interrogated.  '  If  he  is  the  corruptor,  who  is  the 
improver  of  the  citizens?'  'All  mankind.'  But  how  absurd,  how  con 
trary  to  analogy  is  this  !  How  inconceivable  too,  that  he  should  make 
the  citizens  worse  when  he  has  to  live  with  them.  This  surely  cannot 
be  intentional ;  and  if  unintentional,  he  ought  to  have  been  instructed 
by  Meletus,  and  not  accused  in  the  court. 

But  there  is  another  part  of  the  indictment  which  says  that  he 
teaches  men  not  to  receive  the  gods  whom  the  city  receives,  and  has 
other  new  gods.  '  Is  that  the  way  in  which  he  is  supposed  to  corrupt 
the  youth?'  'Yes,  that  is  the  way.'  'Has  he  only  new  gods,  or  none 
at  all?'  'None  at  all.'  'What,  not  even  the  sun  and  moon?'  'No.; 
why,  he  says  that  the  sun  is  a  stone,  and  the  moon  earth.'  That,  replies 
Socrates,  is  the  old  confusion  about  Anaxagoras ;  the  Athenian  people 
are  not  so  ignorant  as  to  attribute  to  the  influence  of  Socrates  notions 
which  have  found  their  way  into  the  drama,  and  may  be  learned  at  the 
theatre.  Socrates  undertakes  to  show  that  Meletus  (rather  unjustifiably) 
has  been  compounding  a  riddle  in  this  part  of  the  indictment :  '  There 


are  no  gods,  but  Socrates  believes  in  the  existence  of  the  sons  of  gods, 
which  is  absurd/ 

Leaving  Meletus,  who  has  had  enough  words  spent  upon  him,  he 
returns  to  the  original  accusation.  The  question  may  be  asked,  Why 
will  he  persist  in  following  a  profession  which  leads  him  to  death? 
Why  ? — because  he  must  remain  at  his  post  where  the  god  has  placed 
him,  as  he  remained  at  Polidaea,  and  Amphipolis,  and  Dclium,  where 
the  generals  placed  him.  Besides,  he  is  not  so  overwise  as  to  imagine 
that  he  knows  whether  death  is  a  good  or  an  evil ;  and  he  is  certain  that 
desertion  of  his  duty  is  an  evil.  Anytus  is  quite  right  in  saying  that 
they  should  never  have  indicted  him  if  they  meant  to  let  him  go.  For 
he  will  certainly  obey  God  rather  than  man ;  and  will  continue  to  preach 
to  all  men  of  all  ages  the  necessity  of  virtue  and  improvement ;  and  if 
they  refuse  to  listen  to  him  he  will  still  persevere  and  reprove  them. 
This  is  his  way  of  corrupting  the  youth,  which  he  will  not  cease  to 
follow  in  obedience  to  the  god,  even  if  a  thousand  deaths  await  him. 

He  is  desirous  that  they  should  not  put  him  to  death — not  for  his  own 
sake,  but  for  theirs;  because  he  is  their  heaven-sent  friend  (and  they 
will  never  have  such  another),  or,  as  he  may  be  ludicrously  described, 
the  gadfly  who  stirs  the  generous  steed  into  motion.  \Vhy  then  has 
he  never  taken  part  in  public  affairs  ?  Because  the  familiar  divine  voice 
has  hindered  him ;  if  he  had  been  a  public  man,  and  had  fought  for  the 
right,  as  he  would  certainly  have  fought  against  the  many,  he  would  not 
have  lived,  and  could  therefore  have  done  no  good.  Twice  in  public 
matters  he  has  risked  his  life  for  the  sake  of  justice — once  at  the  trial 
of  the  generals;  and  again  in  resistance  to  the  tyrannical  commands 
of  the  Thirty. 

But,  though  not  a  public  man,  he  has  passed  his  days  in  instructing 
the  citizens  without  fee  or  reward — this  was  his  mission.  Whether  his 
disciples  have  turned  out  well  or  ill,  he  cannot  justly  be  charged  with 
the  result,  for  he  never  promised  to  teach  them  anything.  They  might 
come  if  they  liked,  and  they  might  stay  away  if  they  liked :  and  they  did 
come,  because  they  found  an  amusement  in  hearing  the  pretenders  to 
wisdom  detected.  If  they  have  been  corrupted,  their  elder  relatives 
(if  not  themselves)  might  surely  come  into  court  and  witness  against 
him,  and  there  is  an  opportunity  still  for  them  to  appear.  But  their 
fathers  and  brothers  all  appear  in  court  (including  '  this '  Plato),  to 
witness  on  his  behalf;  and  if  their  relatives  are  corrupted,  at  least  they 



are  uncorrupted ;    'and  they  are  my  witnesses.     For  they  know   that 
I  am  speaking  the  truth,  and  that  Meletus  is  lying/ 

This  is  about  all  that  he  has  to  say.  He  will  not  entreat  the  judges  to 
spare  his  life ;  neither  will  he  present  a  spectacle  of  weeping  children, 
although  he,  too,  is  not  made  of  'rock  or  oak.'  Some  of  the  judges 
themselves  may  have  complied  with  this  practice  on  similar  occasions, 
and  he  trusts  that  they  will  not  be  angry  with  him  for  not  following 
their  example.  But  he  feels  that  such  conduct  brings  discredit  on  the 
name  of  Athens :  he  feels,  too,  that  the  judge  has  sworn  not  to  give 
away  justice ;  and  he  cannot  be  guilty  of  the  impiety  of  asking  the  judge 
to  break  his  oath,  when  he  is  himself  being  tried  for  impiety. 

As  he  expected,  and  probably  intended,  he  is  convicted.  And  now 
the  tone  of  the  speech,  instead  of  being  more  conciliatory,  becomes 
more  lofty  and  commanding.  Anytus  proposes  death  as  the  penalty : 
and  what  counter-proposition  shall  he  make  ?  He,  the  benefactor  of 
the 'Athenian  people,  whose  whole  life  has  been  spent  in  doing  them 
good,  should  at  least  have  the  Olympic  victor's  reward  of  maintenance 
in  the  prytaneum.  Or  why  should  he  propose  any  counter-penalty 
when  he  does  not  know  whether  death,  which  Anytus  proposes,  is  a 
good  or  an  evil  ?  and  he  is  certain  that  imprisonment  is  an  evil,  exile 
is  an  evil.  Loss  of  money  might  be  no  evil,  but  then  he  has  none 
to  give  ;  perhaps  he  can  make  up  a  mina.  Let  that  be  the  penalty, 
or,  if  his  friends  wish,  thirty  minae ;  for  which  they  will  be  excellent 

\He  is  condemned  to  death.~\ 

He  is  an  old  man  already,  and  the  Athenians  will  gain  nothing  but 
disgrace  by  depriving  him  of  a  few  years  of  life.  Perhaps  he  could 
have  escaped,  if  he  had  chosen  to  throw  down  his  arms  and  entreat  for 
his  life.  But  he  does  not  at  all  repent  of  the  manner  of  his  defence ; 
he  would  rather  die  in  his  own  fashion  than  live  in  theirs.  For  the 
penalty  of  unrighteousness  is  swifter  than  death,  and  that  has  already 
overtaken  his  accusers  as  death  will  soon  overtake  him. 

And  now,  as  one  who  is  about  to  die,  he  will  prophesy  to  them. 
They  have  put  him  to  death  in  order  to  escape  the  necessity  of  giving 
an  account  of  their  lives.  But  his  death  '  will  be  the  seed '  of  many 


disciples  who  will  convict  them  of  their  evil  ways,  and  will  come  forth 
to  reprove  them  in  harsher  terms,  because  they  are  younger  and 
more  inconsiderate. 

He  would  like  to  say  a  few  words,  while  there  is  time,  to  those  who 
would  have  acquitted  him.  He  wishes  them  to  know  that  the  divine 
sign  never  interrupted  him  in  the  course  of  his  defence ;  the  reason  of 
which,  as  he  conjectures,  is  that  the  death  to  which  he  is  going  is 
a  good  and  not  an  evil.  For  either  death  is  a  long  sleep,  the  best  of 
sleeps,  or  a  journey  to  another  world  in  which  the  souls  of  the  dead 
are  gathered  together,  and  in  which  there  may  be  a  hope  of  seeing  the 
heroes  of  old — in  which,  too,  there  are  just  judges  ;  and  as  all  are 
immortal,  there  can  be  no  fear  of  any  one  being  put  to  death  for 
his  opinions. 

Nothing  evil  can  happen  to  the  good  man  either  in  life  or  death,  and 
his  own  death  has  been  permitted  by  the  gods,  because  it  was  better 
for  him  to  depart;  and  therefore  he  forgives  his  judges  because  they 
have  done  him  no  harm,  although  they  never  meant  to  do  him  any 

He  has  a  last  request  to  make  to  them — that  they  will  trouble  his  sons 
as  he  has  troubled  them,  if  they  appear  to  prefer  riches  to  virtue,  or  to 
think  themselves  something  when  they  are  nothing. 

'  Few  persons  will  be  found  to  wish  that  Socrates  should  have  defended 
himself  otherwise/—  if,  as  we  must  add,  his  defence  was  that  with  which 
Plato  has  provided  him.  But  leaving  this  question,  which  does  not 
admit  of  a  precise  solution,  we  may  go  on  to  ask  what  was  the  im 
pression  which  Plato  in  the  Apology  intended  to  leave  of  the  character 
and  conduct  of  his  master  in  the  last  great  scene  ?  Did  he  intend  to 
represent  him  (i)  as  employing  sophistries;  (2)  as  designedly  irritating 
the  judges  ?  Or  are  these  sophistries  to  be  regarded  as  belonging  to 
the  age  in  which  he  lived  and  to  his  personal  character,  and  this 
apparent  haughtiness  as  flowing  from  the  natural  elevation  of  his 
position  ? 

For  example,  when  he  says  that  it  is  absurd  to  suppose  that  one  man 
is  the  corruptor  and  all  the  rest  of  the  world  the  improvers  of  the  youth ; 
or,  when  he  argues  that  he  never  could  have  corrupted  the  men  with 
whom  he  had  to  live ;  or,  when  he  proves  his  belief  in  the  gods  because 

344  APOLOGY. 

he  believes  in  the  sons  of  gods,  is  he  serious  or  jesting?  It  may  be 
observed  that  these  sophisms  all  occur  in  his  cross-examination  of 
Meletus,  who  is  easily  foiled  and  mastered,  in  the  hands  of  the  great 
dialectician.  Perhaps  he  regarded  these  answers  as  good  enough  for 
his  accuser,  of  whom  he  makes  very  light.  Also  there  is  a  touch  of 
irony  in  them,  which  takes  them  out  of  the  category  of  sophistry. 
(Cp.  Euthyph.  2.) 

That  the  manner  in  which  he  defends  himself  about  the  lives  of  his 
disciples  is  not  satisfactory,  can  hardly  be  denied.  Fresh  in  the  memory 
of  the  Athenians,  and  detestable  as  they  deserved  to  be  to  the  newly  re 
stored  democracy,  were  the  names  of  Alcibiades,  Critias,  Charmides.  It 
is  obviously  not  a  sufficient  answer  that  Socrates  had  never  professed  to 
teach  them  anything,  and  is  therefore  not  justly  chargeable  with  their 
crimes.  Yet  the  defence,  when  taken  out  of  this  ironical  form,  is  doubt 
less  sound :  that  his  teaching  had  nothing  to  do  with  their  evil  lives. 
Here,  then,  the  sophistry  is  rather  in  form  than  in  substance,  though  we 
might  desire  that  to  such  a  serious  charge  Socrates  had  given  a  more 
serious  answer. 

Truly  characteristic  of  Socrates  is  another  point  in  his  answer,  which 
may  also  be  regarded  as  sophistical.  He  says  that  '  if  he  has  corrupted 
the  youth,  he  must  have  corrupted  them  involuntarily.'  But  if,  as 
Socrates  argues,  all  evil  is  involuntary,  then  all  criminals  ought  to  be 
admonished  and  not  punished.  In  these  words  the  Socratic  doctrine  of 
the  involuntariness  of  evil  is  clearly  intended  to  be  conveyed.  Here 
again,  as  in  the  former  instance,  the  defence  of  Socrates  is  untrue 
practically,  but  may  be  true  in  some  ideal  or  transcendental  sense.  The 
commonplace  reply,  that  if  he  had  been  guilty  of  corrupting  the  youth 
their  relations  would  surely  have  witnessed  against  him,  with  which  he 
concludes  this  part  of  his  defence,  is  more  satisfactory. 

Again,  when  Socrates  'argues  .that  he  must  believe  in  the  gods  because 
he  believes  in  the  sons  of  gods,  we  must  remember  that  this  is  a  refuta 
tion  not  of  the  original  indictment,  which  is  consistent  enough — 'Socrates 
does  not  receive  the  gods  whom  the  city  receives,  and  has  other  new 
divinities' — but  of  the  interpretation  put  upon  the  words  by  Meletus, 
who  has  affirmed  that  he  is  a  downright  atheist.  To  this  Socrates  fairly 
answers,  in  accordance  with  the  ideas  of  the  time,  that  a  downright 
atheist  cannot  believe  in  the  sons  of  gods  or  in  divine  things.  The 
notion  that  demons  or  lesser  divinities  are  the  sons  of  gods  is  not  to  be 



regarded  as  ironical  or  sceptical.  He  is  arguing  '  ad  hominem  '  according 
to  the  notions  of  mythology  current  in  his  age.  Yet  he  abstains  from 
saying  that  he  believed  in  the  gods  whom  the  State  approved.  He  does 
not  defend  himself,  as  Xenophon  has  defended  him,  by  appealing  to  his 
practice  of  religion.  Probably-he  neither  wholly  believed,  nor  disbelieved, 
in  the  existence  of  the  popular  gods;  he  had  no  means  of  knowing  about 
them.  According  to  Plato,  as  well  as  Xenophon,  he  was  punctual  in  the 
performance  of  the  least  religious  duties ;  and  he  must  have  believed 
in  his  own  oracular  sign,  of  which  he  seemed  to  have  an  internal 
witness.  But  the  existence  of  Apollo  or  Zeus,  or  the  other  gods  whom 
the  State  approves,  would  have  appeared  to  him  both  uncertain  and 
unimportant  in  comparison  of  the  duty  of  self-examination,  and  of  those 
principles  of  truth  and  right  which  he  deemed  to  be  the  foundation  of 
religion.  (Cp.  Phaedr.  230;  Euthyph.  6,  7;  Rep.  373  ff.) 

The  second  question,  whether  Plato  meant  to  represent  Socrates  as 
braving  or  irritating  his  judges,  must  also  be  answered  in  the  negative. 
His  irony,  his  superiority,  his  audacity,  'regarding  not  the  person  of 
man/  necessarily  (low  out  of  the  loftiness  of  his  situation.  lie  is  not 
acting  a  part  upon  a  great  occasion,  but  he  is  what  he  has  been  all  his 
life  long,  '  a  king  of  men.'  He  would  rather  not  appear  insolent,  if  he 
could  avoid  this  (ovx  ®v  ai/^aSi^o/zfi/o?  TOVTO  Arya>).  Neither  is  he  desirous 
of  hastening  his  own  end,  for  life  and  death  are  simply  indifferent  to 
him.  But  such  a  defence  as  would  be  acceptable  to  his  judges  and 
might  procure  an  acquittal,  it  is  not  in  his  nature  to  make.  He  will  not 
say  or  do  anything  that  might  pervert  the  course  of  justice ;  he  cannot 
have  his  tongue  bound  even  '  in  the  throat  of  death.'  With  his  accusers 
he  will  only  fence  and  play,  as  he  had  fenced  with  other  '  improvers  of 
youth,'  answering  the  Sophist  according  to  his  sophistry  all  his  life  long. 
He  is  serious  when  he  is  speaking  of  his  own  mission,  which  seems  to 
distinguish  him  from  all  other  reformers  of  mankind,  and  originates  in 
an  accident.  The  dedication  of  himself  to  the  improvement  of  his 
fellow-citizens  is  not  so  remarkable  as  the  ironical  spirit  in  which  he 
goes  about  doing  good  only  in  vindication  of  the  credit  of  the  oracle, 
and  in  the  vain  hope  of  finding  a  wiser  man  than  himself.  Yet  this 
singular  and  almost  accidental  character  of  his  mission  agrees  with  the 
divine  sign  which,  according  to  our  notions,  is  equally  accidental  and 
irrational,  and  is  nevertheless  accepted  by  him  as  the  guiding  principle 
of  his  life.  Socrates  is  nowhere  represented  to  us  as  a  freethinker  or 

346  APOLOGY. 

sceptic.  There  is  no  reason  to  doubt  his  sincerity  when  he  speculates 
on  the  possibility  of  seeing  and  knowing  the  heroes  of  the  Trojan  war 
in  another  world.  On  the  other  hand,  his  hope  of  immortality  is 
uncertain; — he  also  conceives  of  death  as  a  long  sleep  (in  this  respect 
differing  from  the  Phaedo),  and  at  last  falls  back  on  resignation  to  the 
divine  will,  and  the  certainty  that  no  evil  can  happen  to  the  good  man 
either  in  life  or  death.  His  absolute  truthfulness  seems  to  hinder  him 
from  asserting  positively  more  than  this ;  and  he  makes  no  attempt  to 
veil  his  ignorance  in  mythology  and  figures  of  speech.  The  gentleness 
of  the  first  part  of  the  speech  contrasts  with  the  aggravated,  almost 
threatening,  tone  of  the  conclusion.  He  characteristically  remarks  that 
he  will  not  speak  as  a  rhetorician,  that  is  to  say,  he  will  not  make  a 
regular  defence  such  as  Lysias  or  one  of  the  orators  might  have 
composed  for  him,  or,  according  to  some  accounts,  did  compose  for 
him.  But  he  first  procures  himself  a  hearing  by  conciliatory  words. 
He  does  not  attack  the  Sophists;  for  they  were  open  to  the  same 
charges  as  himself;  they  were  equally  ridiculed  by  the  Comic  poets,  and 
almost  equally  hateful  to  Anytus  and  Meletus.  Yet  incidentally  the 
antagonism  between  Socrates  and  the  Sophists  is  allowed  to  appear. 
He  is  poor  and  they  are  rich ;  his  profession  that  he  teaches  nothing  is 
opposed  to  their  readiness  to  teach  all  things ;  his  talking  in  the  market 
place  to  their  private  instructions;  his  tarry -at -home  life  to  their 
wandering  from  city  to  city.  The  tone  which  he  assumes  towards  them 
is  one  of  real  friendliness,  but  also  of  concealed  irony.  Towards 
Anaxagoras,  who  had  disappointed  him  in  his  hopes  of  learning  about 
mind  and  nature,  he  shows  a  less  kindly  feeling,  which  is  also  the 
feeling  of  Plato  in  other  passages  (Laws,  967  B).  But  Anaxagoras  had 
been  dead  thirty  years,  and  was  beyond  the  reach  of  persecution. 

It  has  been  remarked  that  the  prophecy  of  a  new  generation  of 
teachers  who  would  rebuke  and  exhort  the  Athenian  people  in  harsher 
and  more  violent  terms  was,  as  far  as  we  know,  never  fulfilled.  No 
inference  can  be  drawn  from  this  circumstance  as  to  the  probability  of 
the  words  attributed  to  him  having  been  actually  uttered.  They  express 
the  aspiration  of  the  first  martyr  of  philosophy,  that  he  would  leave 
behind  him  many  followers,  accompanied  by  the  not  unnatural  feeling 
that  they  would  be  fiercer  and  more  inconsiderate  in  their  words  when 
emancipated  from  his  control. 

The  above  remarks  must  be  understood  as  applying  with  any  degree 

IN  TR  OD  UCTION.  347 

of  certainty  to  the  Platonic  Socrates  only.  For,  although  these  or 
similar  words  may  have  been  spoken  by  Socrates  himself,  we  cannot 
exclude  the  possibility,  that  like  so  much  else,  e.  g.  the  wisdom  of  Critias, 
the  poem  of  Solon,  the  virtues  of  Charmides,  they  may  have  been  due 
only  to  the  imagination  of  Plato.  The  arguments  of  those  who 
maintain  that  the  Apology  was  composed  during  the  process,  resting  on 
no  evidence,  do  not  require  a  serious  refutation.  Nor  are  the  reasonings 
of  Schleiermacher,  who  argues  that  the  Platonic  defence  is  an  exact 
or  nearly  exact  reproduction  of  the  words  of  Socrates,  partly  because 
Plato  would  not  have  been  guilty  of  the  impiety  of  altering  them,  and 
also  because  many  points  of  the  defence  might  have  been  improved  and 
strengthened,  at  all  more  conclusive.  (See  English  Translation,  p.  137.) 
What  effect  the  death  of  Socrates  produced  on  the  mind  of  Plato,  we 
cannot  certainly  determine;  nor  can  we  say  how  he  would  or  must 
have  written  under  the  circumstances.  We  observe  that  the  enmity  of 
Aristophanes  to  Socrates  does  not  prevent  Plato  from  introducing  them 
together  in  the  Symposium  engaged  in  friendly  intercourse.  Nor  is 
there  any  trace  in  the  dialogues  of  an  attempt  to  make  Anytus  or 
Meletus  personally  odious  in  the  eyes  of  the  Athenian  public. 


Steph.  T  T  OW  you,  O  Athenians,  have  been  affected  by  my  accusers, 
J7  JL  JL  I  cannot  tell;  but  I  know  that  they  almost  made  me 
forget  myself — so  persuasively  did  they  speak  ;  and  yet  they 
have  hardly  uttered  a  word  of  truth.  But  many  as  their  false 
hoods  were,  there  was  one  of  them  which  quite  amazed  me ; — 
I  mean  when  they  told  you  that  you  should  be  upon  your 
guard  and  not  allow  yourselves  to  be  deceived  by  the  force  of 
my  eloquence.  To'  use  such  language,  when  they  were  sure  to 
be  detected  as  soon  as  I  opened  my  lips  and  displayed  my 
deficiency,  did  certainly  appear  to  me  most  shameless — unless 
by  the  force  of  eloquence  they  mean  the  force  of  truth  ;  for  if 
this  is  their  meaning,  I  admit  that  I  am  eloquent.  But  in  how 
different  a  way  from  theirs !  Well,  as  I  was  saying,  they  have 
hardly  uttered  a  word,  or  not  more  than  a  word,  of  truth  ;  but 
you  shall  hear  from  me  the  whole  truth  :  not,  however,  delivered 
after  their  manner  in  a  set  oration  duly  ornamented  with  words 
and  phrases.  No,  by  heaven  !  but  I  shall  use  the  words  and 
arguments  which  occur  to  me  at  the  moment ;  for  I  am  cer 
tain  that  I  am  right  in  this  ;  and  that  at  my  time  of  life  I 
ought  not  to  be  appearing  before  you,  O  men  of  Athens,  in  the 
character  of  a  juvenile  orator — let  no  one  expect  it  of  me.  And 
I  must  beg  of  you  to  grant  me  a  favour : — If  you  hear  me 
using  the  same  words  in  my  defence  which  I  have  been  in  the 
habit  of  using,  and  which  most  of  you  may  have  heard  in  the 
agora,  and  at  the  tables  of  the  money-changers,  or  anywhere 
else,  I  would  ask  you  not  to  be  surprised,  and  not  to  interrupt 

350  APOLOGY. 

me  on  this  account.  For  I  am  more  than  seventy  years  of  age, 
and  appearing  now  for  the  first  time  in  a  court  of  law,  I  am  quite 
a  stranger  to  the  language  which  is  used  here  ;  and  therefore  I 
would  have  you  regard  me  as  if  I  were  really  a  stranger,  whom  18 
you  would  excuse  if  he  spoke  in  his  native  tongue,  and  after  the 
fashion  of  his  country  : — Am  I  making  an  unfair  request  of  you  ? 
Never  mind  the  manner,  which  may  or  may  not  be  good  ;  but 
think  only  of  the  justice  of  my  cause,  and  give  heed  to  that :  let 
the  judge  decide  justly  and  the  speaker  speak  truly. 

And  first,  I  have  to  reply  to  the  older  charges  and  to  my  first 
accusers,  and  then  I  will  go  on  to  the  later  g_nes.  For  of  old 
I  have  had  many  accusers,  who  have  accused  me  falsely  to  you 
during  many  years ;  and  I  am  more  afraid  of  them  than  of 
Anytus  and  his  associates,  who  are  dangerous,  too,  in  their  own 
way.  But  far  more  dangerous  are  the  others,  who  began  when 
you  were  children,  and  took  possession  of  your  minds  with  their 
falsehoods,  telling  of  one  Socrates,  a  wise  man,  who  speculated 
about  the  heaven  above,  and  searched  into  the  earth  beneath,  and 
made  the  worse  appear  the  better  cause.  The  disseminators  of 
this  tale  are  the  accusers  whom  I  dread  ;  for  their  hearers  are  apt 
to  fancy  that  such  enquirers  do  not  believe  in  the  existence  of 
the  gods.  And  they  are  many,  and  their  charges  against  me  are 
of  ancient  date,  and  they  made  them  in  days  when  you  were 
impressible — in  childhood,  or  perhaps  in  youth — and  the  cause 
when  heard  went  by  default,  for  there  was  none  to  answer.  And 
hardest  of  all,  their  names  I  do  not  know  and  cannot  tell  ; 
unless  in  the  chance  case  of  a  comic  poet.  But  the  main  body 
of  these  slanderers  who  from  envy  and  malice  have  wrought 
upon  you — and  there  are  some  of  them  who  are  convinced  them 
selves,  and  impart  their  convictions  to  others — all  this  class  of 
men  are  most  difficult  to  deal  with  ;  for  I  cannot  have  them  up 
here,  and  examine  them,  and  therefore  I  must  simply  fight  with 
shadows  in  my  own  defence,  and  examine  when  there  is  no  one 
who  answers.  I  will  ask  you  then  to  assume  with  me,  as  I  was 
saying,  that  my  opponents  are  of  two  kinds;  one  recent,_the 
other  ancient :  and  I  hope  that  you  will  see  the  propriety  of 
my  answering  the  latter  first,  for  these  accusations  you  heard 
long  before  the  others,  and  much  oftener. 

Well,  then,  I  must  make  my  defence,  and  endeavour  to  clear  19 

APOLOGY.  351 

away  in  a  short  time,  a  slander  which  has  lasted  a  long  time  ; 
and  I  hope  that  I  may  succeed,  and  that  my  words  may  find 
favour  with  you,  if  this  be  well  for  you  and  me.  But  I  know  that 
to  accomplish  this  is  not  easy — I  quite  see  the  nature  of  the 
task.  Let  the  event  be  as  God  wills  :  in  obedience  to  the  law  I 
make  my  defence. 

I  will  begin  at  the  beginning,  and  ask  what  the  accusation 
is  which  has  given  rise  to  this  slander  of  me,  and  which  has 
encouraged  Meletus  to  proceed  against  me.  Well,  what  do  the 
slanderers  say  ?  They  shall  be  my  prosecutors,  and  I  will  sum, 
up  their  words  in  an  affidavit  :  '  Socrates  is  an  evil-doer,  and  a 
curious  person,  who  searches  into  things  under  the  earth  and  in 
heaven,  and  he  makes  the  worse  appear  the  better  cause  ;  and; 
he  teaches  the  aforesaid  doctrines  to  others.'  Such  is  the  accu-J 
sation,  and  is  just  what  you  have  yourselves  seen  in  the  comedy 
of  Aristophanes,  who  has  introduced  a  man  whom  he  calls  So 
crates,  going  about  and  saying  that  he  can  walk  in  the  air,  and. 
talking  a  deal  of  nonsense  concerning  matters  of  which  I  do  not 
pretend  to  know  either  much  or  little — not  that  I  mean  to  speak 
disparagingly  of  any  one  who  is  a  student  of  natural  philosophy. 
I  should  be  very  sorry  if  Meletus  could  lay  that  to  my  charge. 
But  the  simple  truth  is,  O  Athenians,  that  I.  have  nothing  to  do 
with  physical  speculations.  Very  many  of  those  here  present  are 
witnesses  to  the  truth  of  this,  and  to  them  I  appeal.  Speak  then, 
you  who  have  heard  me,  and  tell  your  neighbours  whether  any 
of  you  have  ever  known  me  hold  forth  in  few  words  or  in  many 
upon  such  matters.  .  .  .  You  hear  their  answer.  And  from 
what  they  say  of  this  part  of  the  charge  you  will  be  able  to 
judge  of  the  truth  of  the  rest. 

As  little  foundation  is  there  for  the  report  that  I  am  a 
teacher,  and  take  money  ;  that  is  no  more  true  than  the  other. 
Although,  if  a  man  were  really  able  to  instruct  mankind,  to  take 
money  for  giving  instruction  would,  in  my  opinion,  be  honour 
able.  There  is  Gorgias  of  Leontium,  and  Prodicus  of  Ceos,  and 
Hippias  of  Elis,  who  go  the  round  of  the  cities,  and  are  able  to 
persuade  the  young  men  to  leave  their  own  citizens,  by  whom 
they  might  be  taught  for  nothing,  and  come  to  them,  whom  they 
20  not  only  pay,  but  arc  thankful  if  they  may  be  allowed  to  pay 
them.  There  is  at  this  time  a  Parian  philosopher  residing  in 

352  APOLOGY. 


Athens,  of  whom  I  have  heard  ;  and  I  came  to  hear  of  him  in 
this  way : — I  met  a  man  who  has  spent  a  world  of  money  on  the 
Sophists,  Callias,  the  son  of  -Hipponicus,  and  knowing  that  he 
had  sons,  I  asked  him  :  '  Callias,'  I  said,  '  if  your  two  sons  were 
foals  or  calves,  there  would  be  no  difficulty  in  finding  some  one 
to  put  over  them  ;  we  should  hire  a  trainer  of  horses,  or  a  farmer 
probably,  who  would  improve  and  perfect  them  in  their  own 
proper  virtue  and  excellence ;  but  as  they  are  human  beings, 
whom  are  you  thinking  of  placing  over  them  ?  Is  there  any  one 
who  understands  human  and  political  virtue?  You  must  have 
thought  about  the  matter,  for  you  have  sons ;  is  there  any 
one?'  'There  is,'  he  said.  'Who  is  he?'  said  I  ;  'and  of  what 
country?  and  what  does  he  charge?'  '  Evenus  the  Parian,'  he 
replied;  'he  is  the  man,  and  his  charge  is  five  minae.'  Happy 
is  Evenus,  I  said  to  myself,  if  he  really  has  this  wisdom,  and 
teaches  at  such  a  modest  charge.  Had  I  the  same,  I  should 
have  been  very  proud  and  satisfied ;  but  the  truth  is  that  I  have 
no  knowledge  of  the  kind. 

I  dare  say,  Athenians,  that  some  one  among  you  will  reply, 
'  Yes,  Socrates,  but  what  is  the  origin  of  these  accusations  which 
are  brought  against  you  ;  there  must  have  been  something 
strange  which  you  have  been  doing?  All  this  rumour  and  talk 
about  you  would  never  have  arisen  if  you  had  been  like  other 
men  :  tell  us,  then,  what  is  the  cause  of  them,  for  we  should  be 
sorry  to  judge  hastily  of  you.'  Now  I  regard  this  as  a  fair  chal 
lenge,  and  I  will  endeavour  to  explain  to  you  the  origin  of  this 
name  of  'wise,'  and  of  my  evil  fame.  Please  to  attend  then. 
And  although  some  of  you  may  think  that  I  am  joking,  I 
declare  that  I  will  tell  you  the  entire  truth.  Men  of  Athens,  this 
reputation  of  mine  has  come  of  a  certain  sort  of  wisdom  jwhich 
I  possess.  If  you  ask  me  what  kind  of  wisdom,  I  reply,  such 
wisdom  as  is  attainable  by  man,  for  to  that  extent  I  am  inclined 
to  believe  that  I  am  tvise  ;  whereas  the  persons  of  whom  I  was 
speaking  have  a  superhuman  wisdom,  which  I  may  fail  to 
describe,  because  I  have  it  not  myself;  and  he  who  says  that  I 
have,  speaks  falsely,  and  is  taking  away  my  character.  And 
here,  O  men  of  Athens,  I  must  beg  you  not  to  interrupt  me, 
even  if  I  seem  to  say  something  extravagant.  For  the  word 
which  I  will  speak  is  not  mine.  I  will  refer  you  to  a  witness 



who  is  worthy  of  credit,  and  will  tell  you  about  my  wisdom — 
whether  I  have  any,  and  of  what  sort — and  that  witness  shall 
be  the  God  of  Delphi.  You  must  have  known  Chaerephon  ;  he 
21  was  early  a  friend  of  mine,  and  also  a  friend  of  yours,  for  he 
shared  in  the  exile  of  the  people,  and  returned  with  you.  Well, 
Chaerephon,  as  you  know,  was  very  impetuous  in  all  his  doings, 
and  he  went  to  Delphi  and  boldly  asked  the  oracle  to  tell  him 
whether — as  I  was  saying,  I  must  beg  you  not  to  interrupt — he 
asked  the  oracle  to  tell  him  whether  there  was  any  one  wiser 
than  I  was,  and  the  Pythian  prophetess  answered,  that  there 
was  no  man  wiser.  Chaerephon  is  dead  himself;  but  his  brother, 
who  is  in  court,  will  confirm  the  truth  of  what  I  am  saying. 

Why  do  I  mention  this  ?  Because  I  am  going  to  explain  to 
you  why  I  have  such  an  evil  name.  When  I  heard  the  answer, 
I  said  to  myself,  What  can  the  god  mean?  and  what  is  the 
interpretation  of  his  riddle  ?  for  I  know  that  I  have  no  wisdom, 
small  or  great.  What  then  can  he  mean  when  he  says  that  I  am 
the  wisest  of  men  ?  And  yet  he  is  a  god,  and  cannot  lie  ;  that 
would  be  against  his  nature.  After  long  consideration,  I  at  last 
thought  of  a  method  of  trying  the  question.  I  reflected  that  if 
I  could  only  find  a  man  wiser  than  myself,  then  I  might  go  to 
the  god  with  a  refutation  in  my  hand.  I  should  say  to  him, 
'  Here  is  a  man  who  is  wiser  than  I  am  ;  but  you  said  that  I 
was  the  wisest.'  Accordingly  I  went  to  one  who  had  the  repu 
tation  of  wisdom,  and  observed  him — his  name  I  need  not 
mention  ;  he  was  a  politician  whom  I  selected  for  examination 
—and  the  result  was  as  follows  :  When  I  began  to  talk  with 
him,  I  could  not  help  thinking  that  he  was  not  really  wise, 
although  he  was  thought  wise  by  many,  and  wiser  still  by  him 
self  ;  and  thereupon  I  tried  to  explain  to  him  that  he  thought 
himself  wise,  but  was  not  really  wise  ;  and  the  consequence  was 
that  he  hated  me,  and  his  enmity  was  shared  by  several  who 
were  present  and  heard  me.  So  I  left  him,  saying  to  myself, 
as  I  went  away :  Well,  although  I  do  not  suppose  that  either  of 
us  knows  anything  really  beautiful  and  good,  I  am  better  off 
than  he  is, — for  he  knows  nothing,  and  thinks  that  he  knows  ; 
I  neither  know  nor  think  that  I  know.  In  this  latter  particular, 
then,  I  seem  to  have  slightly  the  advantage  of  him.  Then  I 
went  to  another  who  had  still  higher  philosophical  pretensions, 
VOL.  i.  A  a 

354  APOLOGY. 

and    my  conclusion   was   exactly   the  same.      I    made  another 
enemy  of  him,  and  of  many  others  besides  him. 

Then  I  went  to  one  man  after  another,  being  not  uncon 
scious  of  the  enmity  which  I  provoked,  and  I  lamented  and 
feared  this :  but  necessity  was  laid  upon  me, — the  word  of  God, 
I  thought,  ought  to  be  considered  first.  And  I  said  to  myself, 
Go  I  must  to  all  who  appear  to  know,  and  find  out  the  meaning 
of  the  oracle.  And  I  swear  to  you,  Athenians,  by  the  dog  I  22 
swear ! — for  I  must  tell  you  the  truth — the  result  of  my  mission 
was  just  this :  I  found  that  the  men  most  in  repute  were  all  but 
the  most  foolish  ;  and  that  some  inferior  men  were  really  wiser 
and  better.  I  will  tell  you  the  tale  of  my  wanderings  and  of  the 
'  Herculean '  labours,  as  I  may  call  them,  which  I  endured  only 
to  find  at  last  the  oracle  irrefutable.  When  I  left  the  politicians, 
I  went  to  the  poets  ;  tragic,  dithyrambic,  and  all  sorts.  And 
there,  I  said  to  myself,  you  will  be  instantly  detected  ;  now  you 
will  find  out  that  you  are  more  ignorant  than  they  are.  Accord 
ingly,  I  took  them  some  of  the  most  elaborate  passages  in  their 
own  writings,  and  asked  what  was  the  meaning  of  them — think 
ing  that  they  would  teach  me  something.  Will  you  believe  me  ? 
I  am  almost  ashamed  to  confess  the  truth,  but  I  must  say  that 
there  is  hardly  a  person  present  who  would  not  have  talked 
better  about  their  poetry  than  they  did  themselves.  Then 
I  knew  without  going  further  that  not  by  wisdom  do  poets  write 
poetry,  but  by  a  sort  of  genius  and  inspiration  ;  they  are  like- 
diviners  or  soothsayers  who  also  say  many  fine  things,  but  do 
not  understand  the  meaning  of  them.  And  the  poets  appeared 
to  me  to  be  much  in  the  same  case  ;  and  I  further  observed  that 
upon  the  strength  of  their  poetry  they  believed  themselves  to  be 
the  wisest  of  men  in  other  things  in  which  they  were  not  wise. 
So  I  departed,  conceiving  myself  to  be  superior  to  them  for  the 
same  reason  that  I  was  superior  to  the  politicians. 

At  last  I  went  to,  for  I  was  conscious  that  I  knew 
nothing  at  all,  as  I  may  say,  and  I  was  sure  that  they  knew 
many  fine  things ;  and  here  I  was  not  mistaken,  for  they  did 
know  many  things  of  which  I  was  ignorant,  and  in  this  they 
certainly  were  wiser  than  I  was.  But  I  observed  that  even  the 
good  artisans  fell  into  the  same  error  as  the  poets ;— because 
they  were  good  workmen  they  thought  that  they  also  knew  all 

APOLOGY.  355 

sorts  of  high  matters,  and  this  defect  in  them  overshadowed 
their  wisdom — therefore  I  asked  myself  on  behalf  of  the  oracle, 
whether  I  would  like  to  be  as  I  was,  neither  having-  their 
knowledge  nor  their  ignorance,  or  like  them  in  both ;  and 
I  made  answer  to  myself  and  the  oracle  that  I  was  better  off  as 
I  was. 

This  investigation  has  led  to  my  having  many  enemies  of  the 
23  worst  and  most  dangerous  kind,  and  has  given  occasion  also  to 
many  calumnies.  And  I  am  called  wise,  for  my  hearers  always 
imagine  that  I  myself  possess  the  wisdom  which  I  find  wanting 
in  others  :  but  the  truth  is,  O  men  of  Athens,  that  God  only  is 
wise  ;  and  in  his  answer  he  means  to  say  that  the  wisdom  of 
men  is  little  or  nothing ;  he  is  not  speaking  of  Socrates,  he 
is  only  using  my  name  by  way  of  illustration,  as  if  he  said,  He, 
O  men,  is  the  wisest,  who,  like  Socrates,  knows  that  his  wisdom 
is  in  truth  worth  nothing.  And  so  I  go  my  way,  obedient  to 
the  god,  and  make  inquisition  into  the  wisdom  of  any  one, 
whether  citizen  or  stranger,  who  appears  to  be  wise  ;  and  if  he 
is  not  wise,  then  in  vindication  of  the  oracle  I  show  him  that 
he  is  not  wise  ;  and  my  occupation  quite  absorbs  me,  and  I 
have  no  time  to  give  either  to  any  public  matter  of  interest  or 
to  any  concern  of  my  own,  but  I  am  in  utter  poverty  by  reason 
of  my  devotion  to  the  god. 

There  is  another  thing : — young  men  of  the  richer  classes, 
who  have  not  much  to  do,  come  about  me  of  their  own  accord  ; 
they  like  to  hear  the  pretenders  examined,  and  they  often 
imitate  me,  and  proceed  to  examine  others  ^there  are  plenty 
of  persons,  as  they  soon  enough  discover,  who  think  that  they 
know  something,  but  really  know  little  or  nothing  ;  and  then 
those  who  are  examined  by  them  instead  of  being  angry  with 
themselves  are  angry  with  me  :  This  confounded  Socrates,  they 
say  ;  this  villainous  misleader  of  youth  ! — and  then  if  somebody 
asks  them,  Why,  what  evil  does  he  practise  or  teach?  they  do 
not  know,  and  cannot  tell  ;  but  in  order  that  they  may  not 
appear  to  be  at  a  loss,  they  repeat  the  ready-made  charges 
which  are  used  against  all  philosophers  about  teaching  things 
up  in  the  clouds  and  under  the  earth,  and  having  no  gods,  and 
making  the  worse  appear  the  better  cause  ;  for  they  do  not -like 
to  confess  ^hat  their  pretence  of  knowledge  has  been  detected — 

A  a  2 

356  APOLOGY. 

which  is  the  truth  ;  and  as  they  are  numerous  and  ambitious 
and  energetic,  and  are  drawn  up  in  battle  array  and  have 
persuasive  tongues,  they  have  filled  your  ears  with'  their  loud 
and  inveterate  calumnies.  And  this  is  the  reason  why  my  three 
accusers,  Meletus  and  Anytus  and  Lycon,  have  set  upon  me  ; 
Meletus,  who  has  a  quarrel  with  me  on  behalf  of  the  poets  ; 
Anytus,  on  behalf  of  the  craftsmen  ;  Lycon,  on  behalf  of  the  24 
rhetoricians  :  and  as  I  said  at  the  beginning,  I  cannot  expect 
to  get  rid  of  such  a  mass  of  calumny  all  in  a  moment.  And  this, 

0  men  of   Athens,  is   the  truth  and  the  whole  truth  ;   I    have 
concealed   nothing,    I    have   dissembled   nothing.      And    yet,    I 
know  that    my  plainness  of  speech  makes  them  hate   me,  and 
what  is  their  hatred  but  a  proof  that  I  am  speaking  the  truth  ? 
—this  is  the  occasion  and  reason  of  their  slander  of  me,  as  you 
will  find  out  either  in  this  or  in  any  future  enquiry. 

I  have  said  enough  in  my  defence  against  the  first  class  of 
my  accusers  ;  I  turn  to  the  second  class  who  are  headed  by 
Meletus,  that  good  and  patriotic  man,  as  he  calls  himself.  And 
now  I  will  try  to  defend  myself  against  them :  these  new 
accusers  must  also  have  their  affidavit  read.  What  do  they  say  ? 
Something  of  this  sort:— -That  Socrates  is  a  doer  of  evil,  and 
a  corruptor  of  the  youth  ;  he  does  not  believe  in  the  gods  of 
the  state,  and  has  other  new  divinities  of  his  own.  That  is  the 
sort  of  charge  ;  and  now  let  us  examine  the  particular  counts. 
He  says  that  I  am  a  doer  of  evil,  who  corrupt  the  youth  ;  but 

1  say,  O  men  of  Athens,  that  Meletus  is  a  doer  of  evil,  and  the 
evil  is  that  he  mixes  up  jest  and  earnest,  and  is  too  ready  at 
bringing  other  men  to  trial  from  a  pretended  zeal  and  interest 
about  matters  in  which  he  really  never  had  the  smallest  interest. 
And  the  truth  of  this  I  will  endeavour  to  prove.  . 

Come  hither,  Meletus,  and  let  me  ask  a  question  of  you. 
You  think  a  great  deal  about  the  improvement'  of  youth  ? 

Yes,  I  do. 

Tell  the  judges,  then,  who  is  their  improver ;  for  you  must 
know,  as  you  have  taken  the  pains  to  discover  their  corruptor, 
and  are  citing  and  accusing  me  before  them.  Speak,  then,  and 
tell  the,  judges  who  their  improver  is.  Observe,  Meletus,  that 
you  -are  silent,  and  have  nothing  to  say.  But  is  not  this  rather 
disgraceful,  and  a  very  considerable  proof  of  what  I  was  saying, 



that  you  have  no  interest  in  the  matter?    Speak  up,  friend,  and 
tell  us  who  their  improver  is. 

The  laws. 

But  that,  my  good  sir,  is  not  my  meaning.     I  want  to  know 
who  the  person  is,  who,  in  the  first  place,  knows  the  laws. 

The  judges,  Socrates,  who  are  present  in  court. 

What,  do  you  mean  to  say,  Meletus,  that  they  are  able  to 
instruct  and  improve  youth  ? 

Certainly  they  are. 

What,  all  of  them,  or  some  only  and  not  others  ? 

All  of  them. 

By  the  goddess  Here,  that  is  good  news  !     There  are  plenty 
of  improvers,  then.     And  what  do  you  say  of  the  audience, — 
25  do  they  improve  them  ? 

Yes,  they  do. 

And  the  senators  ? 

Yes,  the  senators  improve  them. 

But  perhaps  the  members  of  the  assembly  corrupt  them  ? — 
or  do  they  too  improve  them  ? 

They  improve  them. 

Then  every  Athenian  improves  and  elevates  them  ;  all  with 
the  exception  of  myself;  and  I  alone  am  their  corruptor?  Is 
that  what  you  affirm  ? 

That  is  what  I  stoutly  affirm. 

I  am  very  unfortunate  if  you  are  right.  But  suppose  I  ask 
you  a  question  :  Would  you  say  that  the  same  holds  true  in  the 
case  of  horses  ?  Does  one  man  do  them  harm  and  all  the  world 
good?  Is  not  the  exact  opposite  of  this  true?  One  man  is 
able,  to  do  them  good,  or  at  least  not  many ;— the  trainer  of 
horses,  that  is  to  say,  does  them  good,  and  others  who  have  to 
do  with  them  rather  injure  them?  Is  not  that  true,  Meletus,  of 
horses,  or  any  other  animals  ?  Yes,  unmistakeably ;  whether 
you  and  Anytus  say  yes  or  no.  Happy  indeed  would 
be  the  condition  of  youth  if  they  had  one  corruptor  only, 
and  all  the  rest  of  the  world  were  their  improvers.  And  you, 
Meletus,  have  sufficiently  shown  that  you  never  had  a  thought 
about  the  young  :  your  carelessness  is  seen  in  your  not  caring 
about  the  matters  spoken  of  in  your  own  indictment. 

And  now,  Meletus,  I  must  ask  you  another  question  :   Which 

358  APOLOGY. 

is  better,   to   live  among  bad   citizens,  or   among  good   ones? 
Answer,  friend,  I  say  ;    for  that  is   a  question  which   may   be 
easily  answered.    Do  not  the  good  do  their  neighbours  good,  and 
the  bad  do  them  evil  ? 

And  is  there  any  one  who  would  rather  be  injured  than 
benefited  by  those  who  live  with  him?  Answer,  my  good 
friend,  the  law  requires  you  to  answer — does  any  one  like  to  be 
injured  ? 

Certainly  not. 

And  when  you  accuse  me  of  corrupting  and  deteriorating 
the  youth,  do  you  allege  that  I  corrupt  them  intentionally  or 
unintentionally  ? 

Intentionally,  I  say. 

But  you  have  just  admitted  that  the  good  do  their  neigh 
bours  good,  and  the  evil  do  them  evil.  Now,  is  that  a  truth 
which  your  superior  wisdom  has  recognized  thus  early  in  life, 
and  am  I,  at  my  age,  in  such  darkness  and  ignorance  as  not 
to  know  that  if  a  man  with  whom  I  have  to  live  is  corrupted 
by  me,  I  am  very  likely  to  be  harmed  by  him  ;  and  yet  I 
corrupt  him,  and  intentionally,  too — that  is  what  you  are 
saying,  and  of  that  you  will  never  persuade  me  or  any  other 
human  being.  But  either  I  do  not  corrupt  them^iJ^orrupt  26 
them  unintentionally;  and  so  on  either  view  of  the  case  you 
lie.  If  my  offence  is  unintentional,  the  law  has  no  cognizance 
of  unintentional  offences  :  you  ought  to  have  taken  me  privately, 
and  warned  and  admonished  me ;  for  if  I  had  been  better 
advised,  I  should  have  left  off  doing  what  I  only  did  unin 
tentionally — no  doubt  I  should  ;  whereas  you  hated  to  converse 
with  me  or  teach  me,  but  you  indicted  me  in  this  court,  which 
is  a  place  not  of  instruction,  but  of  punishment. 

I  have  shown,  Athenians,  as  I  was  saying,  that  Meletus  has 
no  care  at  all,  great  or  small,  about  the  matter.  But  still  I 
should  like  to  know,  Meletus,  in  what  I  am  affirmed  to  corrupt 
the  young.  I  suppose  you  mean,  as  I  infer  from  your  indict 
ment,  that  I  teach  them  not  to  acknowledge  the  gods  which  the 
state  acknowledges,  but  some  other  new  divinities  or  spiritual 
agencies  in  their  stead.  These  are  the  lessons  which  corrupt 
the  youth,  as  you  say. 

APOLOGY.  359 

Yes,  that  I  say  emphatically. 

Then,  by  the  gods,  Meletus,  of  whom  we  are  speaking,  tell 
me  and  the  court,  in  somewhat  plainer  terms,  what  you  mean ! 
for  I  do  not  as  yet  understand  whether  you  affirm  that  I  teach 
others  to  acknowledge  some  gods,  and  therefore  do  believe  in 
gods,  and  am  not  an  entire  atheist — this  you  do  not  lay  to  my 
charge, — but  only  that  they  are  not  the  same  gods  which  the 
city  recognizes — the  charge  is  that  they  are  different  gods. 
Or,  do  you  mean  to  say  that  I  am  an  atheist  simply,  and  a 
teacher  of  atheism  ? 

I  mean  the  latter — that  you  are  a  complete  atheist. 

That  is  an  extraordinary  statement]  Meletus.  Why  do  you 
say  that?  Do  you  mean  that  I  do  not  believe  in  the  godhead 
of  the  sun  or  moon,  which  is  the  common  creed  of  all  men  ? 

I  assure  you,  judges,  that  he  does  not  believe  in  them  ;  for 
he  says  that  the  sun  is  stone,  and  the  moon  earth. 

Friend  Meletus,  you  think  that  you  are  accusing  Anaxa- 
goras  :  and  you  have  but  a  bad  opinion  of  the  judges,  if  you 
fancy  them  ignorant  to  such  a  degree  as  not  to  know  that 
these  doctrines  are  found  in  the  books  of  Anaxagoras  the 
Clazomenian,  who  is  full  of  them.  And  these  are  the  doctrines 
which  the  youth  are  said  to  learn  of  Socrates,  when  there  are 
not  unfrequently  exhibitions  of  them  at  the  theatre1  (price  of 
admission  one  drachma  at  the  most) ;  and  they  might  cheaply 
purchase  them,  and  laugh  at  Socrates  if  he  pretends  to  father 
such  remarkable  views.  And  so,  Meletus,  you  really  think  that 
I  do  not  believe  in  any  god  ? 

I  swear  by  Zeus  that  you  believe  absolutely  in  none  at  all. 

You  are  a, liar,  Meletus,  not  believed  even  by  yourself.  For 
I  cannot  help  thinking,  O  men  of  Athens,  that  Meletus  is 
reckless  and  impudent,  and  that  he  has  written  this  indictment 
in  a  spirit  of  mere  wantonness  and  youthful  bravado.  Has  he 
27  not  compounded  a  riddle,  thinking  to  try  me?  He  said  to 
himself: — I  shall  see  whether  the  wise  Socrates  will  discover 
my  pleasant  contradiction,  or  whether  I  shall  be  able  to  deceive 
him  and  the  rest  of  them.  For  he  certainly  does  appear  to  me 
to  contradict  himself  in  the  indictment  as  much  as  if  he  said 

1  Probably  in  allusion  to  Aristophanes  who  caricatured,  and  to  Euripides 
who  borrowed  the  notions  of  Anaxagoras,  as  well  as  to  other  dramatic  poets. 

360  APOLOGY. 

that  Socrates  is  guilty  of  not  believing  in  the  gods,  and  yet  of 
believing  in  them — but  this  surely  is  a  piece  of  fun. 

I  should  like  you,  O  men  of  Athens,  to  join  me  in  ex 
amining  what  I  conceive  to  be  his  inconsistency ;  and  do 
you,  Meletus,  answer.  And  I  must  remind  the  audience  that 
they  are  not  to  interrupt  me  if  I  speak  in  my  accustomed 

Did  ever  man,  Meletus,  believe  in  the  existence  of  human 
things,  and  not  of  human  beings?  ...  I  wish,  men  of  Athens, 
that  he  would  answer,  and  not  be  always  trying  to  get  up  an 
interruption.  Did  ever  any  man  believe  in  horsemanship,  and 
not  in  horses  ?  or  in  flute-playing,  and  not  in  flute-players  ? 
No,  my  friend  ;  I  will  answer  to  you  and  to  the  court,  as  you 
refuse  to  answer  for  yourself.  There  is  no  man  who  ever 
did.  But  now  please  to  answer  the  next  question  :  Can  a  man 
believe  in  spiritual  and  divine  agencies,  and  not  in  spirits  or 
demigods  ? 

He  cannot. 

I  am  glad  that  I  have  extracted  that  answer,  by  the  assistance 
of  the  court ;  nevertheless  you  swear  in  the  indictment  that  I 
teach  and  believe  in  divine  or  spiritual  agencies  (new  or  old,  no 
matter  for  that)  ;  at  any  rate,  I  believe  in  spiritual  agencies,  as 
you  say  and  swear  in  the  affidavit ;  but  if  I  believe  in  divine 
beings,  I  must  believe  in  spirits  or  demigods  ; — is  not  that  true  ? 
Yes,  that  is  true,  for  I  may  assume  that  your  silence  gives  assent 
to  that.  Now  what  are  spirits  or  demigods?  are  they  not 
either  gods  or  the  sons  of  gods  ?  Is  that  true  ? 

Yes,  that  is  true. 

But  this  is  just  the  ingenious  riddle  of  which  I  was  speaking : 
the  demigods  or  spirits  are  gods,  and  you  say  first  that  I  do 
not  believe  in  gods,  and  then  again  that  I  do  believe  in  gods  ; 
that  is,  if  I  believe  in  demigods.  For  if  the  demigods  are  the 
illegitimate  sons  of  gods,  whether  by  the  nymphs  or  by  any 
other  mothers,  as  is  thought,  that,  as  all  men  will  allow, 
necessarily  implies  the  existence  of  their  parents.  You  might 
as  well  affirm  the  existence  of  mules,  and  deny  that  of  horses 
and  asses.  Such  nonsense,  Meletus,  could  only  have  been 
intended  by  you  as  a  trial  of  me.  You  have  put  this  into  the 
indictment  because  you  had  nothing  real  of  which  to  accuse  me. 

APOLOGY.  361 

But  no  one  who  has  a  particle  of  understanding  will  ever 
be  convinced  by  you  that  the  same  men  can  believe  in  divine 
and  superhuman  things,  and  yet  not  believe  that  there  arc  gods 
28  and  demigods  and  heroes. 

I  have  said  enough  in  answer  to  the  charge  of  Meletus  :  any 
elaborate  defence  is  unnecessary ;  but  as  I  was  saying  before, 
I  certainly  have  many  enemies,  and  this  is  what  will  be  my 
destruction  if  I  am  destroyed  ;  of  that  I  am  certain  ; — not 
Meletus,  nor  yet  Anytus,  but  the  envy  and  detraction  of  the 
world,  which  has  been  the  death  of  many  good  men,  and  will 
probably  be  the  death  of  many  more  ;  there  is  no  danger  of  my 
being  the  last  of  them. 

Some  one  will  say  :  And  are  you  not  ashamed,  Socrates,  of  a 
course  of  life  which  is  likely  to  bring  you  to  an  untimely  end? 
To  him  I  may  fairly  answer :  There  you  are  mistaken  :  ^a  man 
who  is  good  for  anything  ought  not  to  calculate  the  chance  of 
living  or  dying  ;  he  ought  only  to  consider  whether  in  doing 
'anything  he  is  doing  right  or  wrong — acting  the  part  of  a  good 
man  or  of  a  bad.  Whereas,  according  to  your  view,  the  heroes 
who  fell  at  Troy  were  not  good  for  much,  and  the  son  of 
Thetis  above  all,  who  altogether  despised  danger  in  comparison 
with  disgrace j  and  when  his  goddess  mother  said  to  him,  in  his 
eagerness  to  slay  Hector,  that  if  he  avenged  his  companion 
Patroclus,  and  slew  Hector,  he  would  die  himself — '  Fate,'  as  she 
said,  'waits  upon  you  next  after  Hector;'  he,  hearing  this, 
utterly  despised  danger  and  death,  and  instead  of  fearing  them, 
feared  rather  to  live  in  dishonour,  and  not  to  avenge  his  friend. 
'  Let  me  die  next,'  he  replies,  '  and  be  avenged  of  my  enemy, 
rather  than  abide  here  by  the  beaked  ships,  a  scorn  and  a 
burden  of  the  earth.'  Had  Achilles  any  thought  of  death  and 
danger  ?  For  wherever  a  man's  place  is,  whether  the  place 
which  he  has  chosen  or  that  in  which  he  has  been  placed  by  a 
commander,  there  he  ought  to  remain  in  the  hour  of  danger  ; 
he  should  not  think  of  death  or  of  anything  but  of  disgrace. 
And  this,  O  men  of  Athens,  is  a  true  saying. 

Strange,  indeed,  would  be  my  conduct,  O  men  of  Athens,  if 
I  who,  when  I  was  ordered  by  the  generals  whom  you  chose  to 
command  me  at  Potidaea  and  Amphipolis  and  Delium,  remained 
where  they  placed  me,  like  any  other  man,  facing  death  ;  if,  I 

362  APOLOGY. 

say,  now,  when,  as  I  conceive  and  imagine,  God  orders   me  to 
fulfil   the   philosopher's    mission  of  searching   into   myself  and 
other  men,  I  were  to  desert  my  post  through  fear  of  death,  or  29 
any  other  fear;   that  would    indeed   be  strange,   and   I   might 
justly  be  arraigned  in  court   for  denying  the   existence  of  the 
gods,  if  I  disobeyed  the  oracle  because  I  was  afraid  of  death  : 
then  I  should  be  fancying  that  I  was  wise  when  I  was  not  wise. 
For  the  fear  of  death  is  indeed  the  pretence  of  wisdom,   and  > 
not  real  wisdom,  being  a  pretended  knowledge  of  the  ujnknpwn  -jf 
and  no  one  knows  whether  death,  which  men  in  their  fear  appre 
hend  to  be  the  greatest  evil,  may  not  be  the  greatest  good.     Is 
there  not  here  conceit  of  knowledge,  which  is  a  disgraceful  sort 
of  ignorance  ?    And  this  is  the  point  in  which,  as  I  think,  I  differ 
from  others,  and  in  which  I  might  perhaps  fancy  myself  wiser 
than   men   in   general,— that  whereas   I  know  but  little  of  th 
world  below,  I  do  not  suppose  that  I  know  :  but  I  do  know  th 
injustice  and  disobedience  to  a  better,  whether  God  or  man,  is 
evil  and  dishonourable,  and  I  will  never  fear  or  avoid  a  possible 
good  rather  than  a  certain  evil.     And  therefore  if  you  let  me  go 
now,  and  reject  the  counsels  of  Anytus,  who  said  that  if  I  were 
not  put  to  death  I  ought  not  to  have  been  prosecuted,  and  that 
if  I  escape  now,  your  sons  will  all  be  utterly  ruined  by  listening 
to  my  words— ^you  say  to  me,  Socrates,  this  time  we  will  not 
mind  Anytus,  and  will  let  you  off,  but  upon  one  condition,  that 
you  are  not  to  enquire  and  speculate  in  this  way  any  more,  and 
that  if  you  are  caught  doing  this  again  you  shall  die  ; — if  this 
was  the  condition  on  which  you  let  me  go,  I  should  reply :   Men^y 
of  Athens,  I  honour  and  love  you  ;  but  I  shall  obey  God  rather 
than  you,  and  while  I  have  life  and  strength  I  shall  never  cease 
from  the  practice  and  teaching  of  philosophy,  exhorting  any  one 
whom  I  meet  after  my  manner,  and  convincing  him,   saying : 
O  my  friend,  why  do  you,  who  are  a  citizen  of  the  great  and 
mighty  and  wise  city  of  Athens,  care  so  much  about  laying  up 
the  greatest  amount  of  money  and  honour  and  reputation,  and     / 
so  little  about  wisdom  and  truth  and  the  greatest  improvement  ^ 
of  the  soul,  which  you  never  regard  or  heed  at  all  ?     Are  you 
not  ashamed   of  this?      And   if  the  person  with  whom   I   am 
arguing,  says  :  Yes,  but  I  do  care  ;  I  do  not  depart  or  let  him 
go  at  once  ;  I  interrogate  and  examine  and  cross-examine  him, 

APOLOGY.  363 

and  if  I  think  that  he  has  no  virtue,  but  only  says  that  he  has,  I 
reproach  him  with  undervaluing  the  greater,  and  overvaluing  the 
30  less.  And  I  say  the  same  to  every  one  whom  I  meet,  young 
and  old,  citizen  and  alien,  but  especially  to  the  citizens,  inas 
much  as  they  are  my  brethren.  For  know  that  this  is  the  com 
mand  of  God  ;  and  I  believe  that  to  this  day  no  greater  good 
has  ever  happened  in  the  state  than  my  service  to  the  God.  For 
^K'do  nothing  but  go  about  .persuading  you  all,  old  and  young 
alike,  not  to  take  thought  for  your  persons  or  your  properties, 
but  first  and  chiefly  to  care  about  the  greatest  improvement  of 
the  soul.  I  tell  you  that  virtue  is  not  given  by  money,  but  that 
from  virtue  come  money  and  every  other  good  of  man,  public 
as  well  as  private.  This  is  my  teaching,  and  if  this  is  the  doc 
trine  which  corrupts  the  youth,  my  influence  is  ruinous  indeed. 
But  if  any  one  says  that  this  is  not  my  teaching,  he  is  speaking 
an  untruth.  Wherefore,  O  men  of  Athens,  I  say  to  you,  do  as 
Anytus  bids  or  not  as  Anytus  bids,  and  either  acquit  me  or  not ; 
but  whatever  you  do,  understand  that  I  shall  never  alter  my 
ways,  not  even  if  I  have  to  die  many  times.  / 

Men  of  Athens,  do  not  interrupt,  but  hear  me  ;  there  was  an  I 
agreement  between  us  that  you  should  hear  me  out.  And  I 
think  that  what  I  am  going  to  say  will  do  you  good  :  for  I  have 
something  more  to  say,  at  which  you  may  be  inclined  to  cry 
out ;  but  I  beg  that  you  will  not.  I  would  have  you  know,  that 
if  you  kill  such  an  one  as  I  am,  you  will  injure  yourselves 
more  than  you  will  injure  me.  Nothing  will  injure  me,  not  Me- 
letus  nor  yet  Anytus — they  cannot,  for  a  bad  man  is  not  per 
mitted  to  injure  a  better  than  himself.  I  do  not  den^that  he 
may,  perhaps,  kill  him,  or  drive  him  into  exile,  or  deprive  him 
of  civil  rights  ;  and  he  may  imagine,  and  others  may  imagine, 
that  he  is  doing  him  a  great  injury :  but  in  that  I  do  not  agree 
with  him  ;  fo£_the_evil  of  doing  as  Anytus  is  doing — of  unjustly 
taking  away  another  man's  life  —  is  greater  far.  And  now, 
Athenians,  I  am  not  going  to  argue  for  my  own  sake,  as  you  / 
may  think,  but  for  yours,  that  you  may  not  sin  against  the  God,  ^ 
or  lightly  reject  his  boon  by  condemning  me.  For  if  you  kill 
me  you  will  not  easily  find  another  like  me,  who,  if  I  may  use 
such  a  ludicrous  figure  of  speech,  am  a  sort  of  gadfly,  given  to 
the  state  by  the  God  ;  and  the  state  is  like  a  great  and  noble 

364  APOLOGY. 

steed  who  is  tardy  in  his  motions  owing  to  his  very  size,  and 
requires  to  be  stirred  into  life.  I  am  that  gadfly  which  God  has 
given  the  state,  and  all  day  long  and  in  all  places  am  always  3 1 
fastening  upon  you,  arousing  and  persuading  and  reproaching 
you.  And  as  you  will  not  easily  find  another  like  me,  I  would 
advise  you  to  spare  me.  I  dare  say  that  you  may  feel  irritated 
at  being  suddenly  awakened  when  you  are  caught  napping ;  and 
you  may  think  that  if  you  were  to  strike  me  dead  as  Anytus 
advises,  which  you  easily  might,  then  you  would  sleep  on  for 
the  remainder  of  your  lives,  unless  God  in  his  care  of  you  gave 
you  another  gadfly.  And  that  I  am  given  to  you ^ by  God, is 
proved  by  this  :— that  if  I  had  been  like  other  men,  I  should 
not  have  neglected  all  my  own  concerns  or  patiently  seen  the 

\  neglect  of  them  during  all  these  years,  and  have  been  doing 
yours,  coming  to  you  individually  like  a  father  or  elder  brother, 
exhorting  you  to  regard  virtue;  such  conduct,  I  say,  would  be 
unlike  human  nature.  And  had  I  gained  anything,  or  if  my  ex 
hortations  had  been  paid,  there  would  have  been  some  sense  in 
that;  but  now,  as  you  will  perceive,  not  even  the  impudence  of  my 
accusers  dares  to  say  that  I  have  ever  exacted  or  sought  pay  of 
any  one ;  of  that  they  have  no  witness.  And  I  have  a  witness 
of  the  truth  of  what  I  say ;  my  poverty  is  a  sufficient  witness. 

Some  one  may  wonder  why  I  go  about  in  private  giving 
advice  and  busying  myself  with  the  concerns  of  others,  but  do 
not  venture  to  come  forward  in  public  and  advise  the  state.  I  will 
tell  you  why.  You  have  often  heard  me  speak  in  times  past  of 
an  oracle  or  sign  which  comes  to  me,  and  is  the  divinity  which 
Meletus  ridicules  in  the  indictment.  This  sign  I  have  had  ever 
since  I  was  a  child.  The  sign  is  a  voice  which  comes  to  me 
and  always  forbids  me  to  do  something  which  I  am  going  to 
do,  but  never  commands  me  to  do  anything,  and  this  is  what 
stands  in  the  way  of  my  being  a  politician.  And  rightly,  as  I 
think.  For  I  am  certain,  O  men  of  Athens,  that  if  I  had 
engaged  in  politics,  I  should  have  perished  long  ago,  and  done 
no  good  either  to  you  or  to  myself.  And  do  not  be  offended 
at  my  telling  you  the  truth  :  for  the  truth  is,  that  no  man  who 

.  goes  to  war  with  you  or  any  other  multitude,  honestly  struggling 
against  the  commission  of  unrighteousness  and  wrong  in  the 
state,  will  save  his  life;  he  who  will  really  fight  for  the  right,  if 32 

APOLOGY.  365 

he  would  live  even  for  a  little  while,  must  have  a  private  station 
and  not  a  public  one. 

I  can  give  you  as  proofs  of  what  I  say,  not  words  only,  but 
deeds,  which  you  value  far  more.  Let  me  tell  you  a  passage 
of  my  own  life  which  will  prove  to  you  that  I  should  never  have 
yielded  to  injustice  from  any  fear  of  death,  and  that  when  I  re 
fused  to  yield  I  must  have  died.  I  will  tell  you  a  tale  of  the 
courts,  not  very  interesting  perhaps,  but  nevertheless  true.  The 
only  office  of  state  which  I  ever  held,  O  men  of  Athens,  was 
that  of  senator :  the  tribe  Antiochis,  which  is  my  tribe,  had  the 
presidency  at  the  trial  of  the  generals  who  had  not  taken  up 
the  bodies  of  the  slain  after  the  battle  of  Arginusae  ;  and  you 
proposed  to  try  them  in  a  body,  which  was  illegal,  as  you  all 
thought  afterwards  ;  but  at  the  time  I  was  the  only  one  of  the 
Prytanes  who  was  opposed  to  the  illegality,  and  I  gave  my  vote 
against  you  ;  and  when  the  orators  threatened  to  impeach  and 
arrest  me,  and  have  me  taken  away,  and  you  called  and  shouted, 
I  made  up  my  mind  that  I  would  run  the  risk,  having  law  and 
justice  with  me,  rather  than  take  part  in  your  injustice  because 
I  feared  imprisonment  and  death.  This  happened  in  the  days 
of  the  democracy.  But  when  the  oligarchy  of  the  Thirty  was 
in  power,  they  sent  for  me  and  four  others  into  the  rotunda,  and 
bade  us  bring  Leon  the  Salaminian  from  Salamis,  as  they  wanted 
to  execute  him.  That  was  a  specimen  of  the  sort  of  commands 
which  they  were  always  giving  with  the  view  of  implicating  as 
many  as  possible  in  their  crimes  ;  and  then  I  showed,  not  in 
word  only  but  in  deed,  that,  if  I  may  be  allowed  to  use  such  an 
expression,  I  cared  not  a  straw  for  death,  and  that  my  sole  fear 
was  the  fear  of  doing  an  unrighteous  or  unholy  thing.  For  the 
strong  arm  of  that  oppressive  power  did  not  frighten  me  into 
doing  wrong ;  and  when  we  came  out  of  the  rotunda  the  other 
four  went  to  Salamis  and  fetched  Leon,  but  I  went  quietly 
home.  For  which  I  might  have  lost  my  life,  had  not  the  power 
of  the  Thirty  shortly  afterwards  come  to  an  end.  And  many 
will  witness  to  my  words. 

Now  do  you  really  imagine  that  I  could   have    survived   all 
these  years,  if  I  had  led  a  public  life,  supposing  that  like  a  good      / 
man  I  had  always  supported  the  right  and  had  made  justice,  as 
I  ought,  the  first  thing  ?     No  indeed,  men  -of  Athens,  neither  I 

366  APOLOGY. 

nor  any  other.  But  I  have  been  always  the  same  in  all  my  33 
actions,  public  as  well  as  private,  and  never  have  I  yielded  any 
base  compliance  to  those  who  are  slanderously  termed  my  dis 
ciples,  or  to  any  other.  For  the  truth  is  that  I  jiaye  no_  regular 
disciples  :  but  if  any  one  likes  to  come  and  hear  me  while  I  am 
pursuing  my  mission,  whether  he  be  young  or  old,  he  may  freely 
come.  Nor  do  I  converse  with  those  who  pay  only,  and  not 
with  those  who  do  not  pay;  but  any  one,  whether  he  be  rich 
or  poor,  may  ask  and  answer  me  and  listen  to  my  words  ;  and 
whether  he  turns  out  to  be  a  bad  man  or  a  good  one,  that  cannot 
be  justly  laid  to  my  charge,  as  I  never  taught  or  professed  to 
teach  him  anything.  And  if  any  one  says  that  he  has  ever 
learned  or  heard  anything  from  me  in  private  which  all  the 
world  has  not  heard,  I  should  like  you  to  know  that  he  is 
speaking  an  untruth. 

But  I  shall  be  asked,  Why  do  people  delight  in  continually 
conversing  with  you?  I  have  told  you  already,  Athenians,  the 
whole  truth  about  this :  they  like  to  hear  the  cross-examination  of 
the  pretenders  to  wisdom ;  there  is  amusement  in  it.  To  converse 
with  others  is  a  duty  which  the  God  has  imposed  upon  me,  as 
I  am  assured  by  oracles,  visions,  and  in  every  way  in  which 
the  will  of  divine  power  was  ever  signified  to  any  one.  This  is 
true,  O  Athenians  ;  or,  if  not  true,  would  be  soon  refuted.  For 
if  lam  really  corrupting  the  youth,  and  have  corrupted  some 
of  them  Already,  those  of  them  who  have  grown  up  and  have 
become  sensible  that  I  gave  them  bad  advice  in  the  days  of 
their  youthj|should  come  forward  as  accusers,  and  take  their 
revenge  ;  and  if  they  do  not  like  to  come  themselves,  some  of 
their  relatives,  fathers,  brothers,  or  other  kinsmen,  should  say 
what  evil  their  families  suffered  at  my  hands.  Now  is  their 
time.  Many  of  them  I  see  in  the  court.  There  is  Crito,  who 
is  of  the  same  age  and  of  the  same  deme  with  myself,  and 
there  is  Critobulus  his  son,  whom  I  also  see.  Then  again  there 
is  Lysanias  of  Sphettus,  who  is  the  father  of  Aeschines — he  is 
present ;  and  also  there  is  Antiphon  of  Cephisus,  who  is  the 
father  of  Epigenes ;  and  there  are  the  brothers  of  several  who 
have  associated  with  me.  There  is  Nicostratus  the  son  of  Theos- 
dotides,  and  the  brother  of  Theodotus  (now  Theodotus  himself 
is  dead,  and  therefore  he,  at  any  rate,  will  not  seek  to  stop  him) ; 

APOLOGY.  367 

and  there  is  Paralus  the  son  of  Demodocus,  who  had  a  brother 
34  Theages  ;  and  Adeimantus  the  son  of  Ariston,  whose  brother 
Plato  is  present ;  and  Aeantodorus,  who  is  the  brother  of  Apollo- 
dorus,  whom  I  also  see.  I  might  mention  a  great  many  others, 
any  of  whom  Meletus  should  have  produced  as  witnesses  in  the 
course  of  his  speech  ;  and  let  him  still  produce  them,  if  he  has 
forgotten — I  will  make  way  for  him.  And  let  him  say,  if  he 
has  any  testimony  of  the  sort  which  he  can  produce.  Nay, 
Athenians,  the  very  opposite  is  the  truth.  For  all  these  are 
ready  to  witness  on  behalf  of  the  corruptor,  of  the  destroyer  of 
their  kindred,  as  Meletus  and  Anytus  call  me  ;  not  the  corrupted 
youth  only — there  might  have  been  a  motive  for  that — but  their 
uncorrupted  elder  relatives.  Why  should  they  too  support  me 
with  their  testimony  ?  Why,  indeed,  except  for  the  sake  of  truth 
and  justice,  and  because  they  know  that  I  am  speaking  the 
trjath,  and  that  Meletus  is  lying. 

WTell,  Athenians,  this  and  the  like  of  this  is  nearly  all  the 
defence  which  I  have  to  offer.  Yet  a  word  more.  Perhaps  there 
may  be  some  one  who  is  offended  at  me,  when  he  calls  to  mind 
how  he  himself  on  a  similar,  or  even  a  less  serious  occasion^  had 
prayed  and  entreated  the  judges  with  many  tears,  and  how  he 
produced  his  children  in  court,  which  was  a  moving  spectacle, 
together  with  a  host  of  relations  and  friends  ;  whereas  I,  who 
am  probably  in  danger  of  my  life,  will  do  none  of  these  things. 
The  contrast  may  occur  to  his  mind,  and  he  may  be  set  against 
me,  and  vote  in  anger  because  he  is  displeased  at  me  on  this 
account.  Now  if  there  be  such  a  person  among  you,  which  I 
am  far  from  affirming,  I  may  fairly  reply  to  him  :  My  friend, 
I  am  a  man,  and  like  other  men,  a  creature  of  flesh  and  blood, 
and  not  'of  wood  or  stone,'  as  Homer  says;  and  I  have  a 
family,  yes,  and  sons,  O  Athenians,  three  in  number,  one  of 
whom  is  growing  up,  and  the  two  others  are  still  young ;  and 
yet  I  will  not  bring  any  of  them  hither  in  order  to  petition  you 
for  an  acquittal.  And  why  not?  Not  from  any  self-will  or  dis 
regard  of  you.  Whether  I  am  or  am  not  afraid  of  death  is 
another  question,  of  which  I  will  not  now  speak.  But  my 
reason  simply  is,  that  I  feel  such  _  conduct  to  be  discreditable 
to  myself,  and  to  you,  and  to  the  whole  state.  One  who  has 
reached  my  years,  and  who  has  a  name  for  wisdom,  whether 


368  APOLOGY. 

deserved  or  not,  ought  not  to  demean  himself.  At  any  rate,  the 
world  has  decided  that  Socrates  is  in  some  way  superior  to  other 
men.  And  if  those  among  you  who  are  said  to  be  superior  35 
in  wisdom  and  courage,  and  any  other  virtue,  demean  them 
selves  in  this  way,  how  shameful  is  their  conduct !  I  have  seen 
men  of  reputation,  when  they  have  been  condemned,  behaving 
in  the  strangest  manner :  they  seemed  to  fancy  that  they  were 
going  to  suffer  something  dreadful  if  they  died,  and  that  they 
could  be  immortal  if  you  only  allowed  them  to  live  ;  and  I 
think  that  they  were  a  dishonour  to  the  state,  and  that  any 
stranger  coming  in  would  have  said  of  them  that  the  most  eminent 
men  of  Athens,  to  whom  the  Athenians  themselves  give  honour 
and  command,  are  no  better  than  women.  And  I  say  that 
these  things  ought  not  to  be  done  by  those  of  us  who  are  of 
reputation  ;  and  if  they  are  done,  you  ought  not  to  permit  them  ; 
you  ought  rather  to  show  that  you  are  more  inclined  to  con 
demn,  not  the  man  who  is  quiet,  but  the  man  who  gets  up  a 
doleful  scene,  and  makes  the  city  ridiculous. 

But,  setting  aside  the  question  of  dishonour,  there  seems  to 
be  something  unjust  in  petitioning  a  judge,  and  thus  procuring 
an  acquittal  instead  of  informing  and  convincing  him.  For  his 
duty  is,  not  to  make  a  present  of  justice,  Jt>ut  to  give  judgment ; 
and  he  has  sworn  that  he~wilT"j*uorge  according  to  the  laws,  and 
not  according  to  his  own  good  pleasure  ;  and  we  ought  not  to 
encourage  you,  or  you  allow  yourselves  to  be  encouraged,  in  this 
habit  of  perjury — there  can  be  no  piety  in  that.  Do  not  then 
require  me  to  do  what  I  consider  dishonourable  and  impious 
and  wrong,  especially  now,  when  I  am  being  tried  for  impiety 
on  the  indictment  of  Meletus.  For  if,  O  men  of  Athens,  by 
force  of  persuasion  and  entreaty,  I  could  overpower  your  oaths, 
then  I  should  be  teaching  you  to  believe  that  there  are  no  gods, 
and  convict  myself,  in  my  own  defence,  of  not  believing  in  them. 
But  that  is  not  the  case  ;  for  I  do  believe  that  there  'are  gods, 
and  in  a  far  higher  sense  than  that  in  which  any  of  my  accusers 
believe  in  them.  And  to  you  and  to  God  I  commit  my  cause, 
to  be  determined  by  you  as  is  best  for  you  and  me. 

APOLOGY.  369 

There  are  many  reasons  why  I  am  not  grieved,  O  men  of 
36  Athens,  at  the  vote  of  condemnation.  I  expected  it,  and  am 
only  surprised  that  the  votes  are  so  nearly  equal  ;  for  I  had 
thought  that  the  majority  against  me  would  have  been  far 
larger  ;  but  now,  had  three  votes  gone  over  to  the  other  side,  I 
should  have  been  acquitted.  And  I  may  say,  I  think,  that  I  have 
escaped  Meletus.  Nay,  I  may  say  more  ;  for  without  the  assist 
ance  of  Anytus  and  Lycon,  he  would  not  have  had  a  fifth  part 
of  the  votes,  as  the  law  requires,  in  which  case  he  would  have 
incurred  a  fine  of  a  thousand  drachmae,  as  is  evident. 

And  so  he  proposes  death  as  the  penalty.     And  what  shall  I 
propose  on  my  part,  O  men  of  Athens  ?     Clearly  that  which  is 
my  due.    And  what  is  that  which  I  ought  to  pay  or  to  receive  ? 
What  shall  be  done  to  the  man  who  has  never  had  the  wit  to 
be  idle  during  his  whole  life ;  but  has  been  careless  of  what  the 
many   care   about — wealth,    and    family    interests,   and   military 
offices,  and   speaking   in   the  assembly,    and    magistracies,    and 
plots,    and    parties.     Reflecting   that    I    was   really    too   honest 
a   man   to  follow  in  this   way  and   live,  I   did  not   go  where  I 
could  do  no  good  to  you  or  to  myself;  but  where  I  could  do 
the  greatest  good  privately  to  every  one  of  you,  thither  I  went,  \/ 
and  sought  to  persuade  every  man  among  you,  that  .he   must 
look  to  himself,  and  seek  virtue  and  wisdom  before  he  looks  to 
his  private  interests,  and  look  to  the  state  before  he  looks  to 
the   interests   of  the   state :    and  that  this  should  be  the  order 
which  he  observes  in   all   his  actions.     What  shall  be   done  to 
such  an  one?     Doubtless  some  good  thing,  O  men  of  Athens, 
if  he  has  his  reward  ;  and  the  good  should  be  of  a  kind  suitable 
to  him.     What  would  be  a  reward  suitable  to  a  poor  man  who 
is   your   benefactor,   who   desires    leisure   that   he    may    instruct 
you  ?     There  can  be  no  more  fitting  reward  than  maintenance 
in  the  Prytaneum,  O  men  of  Athens,  a  reward  which  he  deserves 
far  more  than  the  citizen  who  has  won  the  prize  at  Olympia  in 
the  horse  or  chariot  race,  whether  the  chariots  were  drawn  by 
two  horses  or  by  many.    For  I  am  in  want,  and  he  has  enough  ; 
and  he  only  gives  you  the  appearance  of  happiness,  and  I  give 
you  the   reality.     And  if  I   am   to   estimate  the  penalty  fairly, 
37  I    should  say  that    maintenance  in  the  Prytaneum   is   the  just 

VOL.  I.  r,  b 

37o  APOLOGY. 

Perhaps  you  think  that  I  am  braving  you  in  what  I  am  saying 
now,  as  in  what  I  said  before  about  the  tears  and  prayers.     But 
this  is  not  the  case.   I  speak  rather  because  I  am  convinced  that  I 
never  intentionally  wronged  any  one,  although  I  cannot  convince 
you  of  that— for  we  have  had  a  short  conversation  only ;  but  if 
there  were  a  law  at  Athens,  such  as  there  is  in  other  cities,  that 
a  capital  cause  should  not  be  decided  in  one  day,  then  I  believe 
that  I  should  have  convinced  you  ;    but   now  the  time  is  too 
short.     I  cannot  in  a  moment  refute  great  slanders  ;    and,  as  I 
am  convinced  that  I   never  wronged  another,   I   will  assuredly 
not  wrong  myself.     I  will  not  say  of  myself  that  I  deserve  any 
evil,  or  propose  any  penalty.     Why  should  I  ?     Because  I  am 
afraid  of  the  penalty  of  death  which  Meletus  proposes?     When 
I  do  not  know  whether  death  is  a  good  or  an  evil,  why  should 
I  propose  a  penalty  which  would  certainly  be  an  evil?     Shall  I 
say  imprisonment?     And  why  should  I  live  in  prison,  and  be 
the  slave  of  the  magistrates  of  the   year— of  the  Eleven  ?     Or 
shall  the  penalty  be  a  fine,  and  imprisonment  until  the  fine  is 
paid?     There  is  the  same   objection.     I   should  have  to  lie  in 
prison,  for  money  I  have  none,  and  cannot  pay.     And  if  I  say 
exile  (and  this  may  possibly  be  the  penalty  which  you  will  affix), 
I  must  indeed  be  blinded  by  the  love  of  life,  if  I  am  so  irrational 
as  to  expect  that  when  you,  who  are  my  own  citizens,  cannot 
endure   my   discourses   and   words,   and    have   found    them    so 
grievous  and  odious  that  you  would  fain  have  done  with  them, 
others   are   likely  to   endure   me.     No   indeed,  men  of  Athens, 
that  is  not  very  likely.     And  what  a  life  should  I  lead,  at  my 
age,  wandering  from  city  to  city,  living  interchanging  exile, 
and  always  being  driven  out!     For  I  am  quite  sure  that   into 
whatever  place  I  go,  as    here   so   also    there,    the   young   men 
will  come  and  listen  to  me  ;    and  if  I   drive    them    away,  their 
elders  will    drive   me   out   at    their   desire  ;    and  if  I   let   them 
come,  their   fathers    and   friends   will    drive   me    out   for   their 

Some  one  will  say:  Yes,  Socrates,  but  cannot  you  hold  your 
tongue,  and  then  you  may  go  into  a  foreign  city,  and  no  one 
will  interfere  with  you  ?  Now  I  have  great  difficulty  in  making 
you  understand  my  answer  to  this.  For  if  I  tell  you  that  to  do 
as  you  say  would  be  a  disobedience  to  the  God,  and  therefore 

APOLOGY.  37  j 

that  I  cannot  hold  my  tongue,  you  will  not  believe  that  I  am 
38  serious ;  and  if  I  say  again  that  the  greatest  good  of  many 
is  daily  to  converse  about  virtue,  and  all  that  concerning  which 
you  hear  me  examining  myself  and  others,  and  that  the  life 
which  is  unexamined  is  not  worth  living,  you  are  still  less  likely 
to  believe  me.  And  yet  what  I  say  is  indeed  true,  although  a 
thing  of  which  it  is  hard  for  me  to  persuade  you.  Moreover,  I 
have  not  been  accustomed  to  think  that  I  deserve  any  punishment. 
Had  I  money  I  might  have  estimated  the  offence  at  what  I  was 
able  to  pay,  and  have  been  none  the  worse.  But  you  see  that  I 
have  none,  and  I  can  only  ask  you  to  proportion  the  fine  to  my 
means.  However,  I  think  that  I  could  afford  a  mina,  and 
therefore  I  propose  that  penalty  :  Plato,  Crito,  Critobulus,  and 
Apollodorus,  my  friends  here,  bid  me  say  thirty  minae,  and 
they  will  be  the  sureties.  Well,  then,  say  thirty  minae,  let  that 
be  the  penalty  ;  and  for  that  sum  they  will  be  ample  security 
to  you. 

Not  much  time  will  be  gained,  O  Athenians,  in  return  for 
the  evil  name  which  you  will  get  from  the  detractors  of  the 
city,  who  will  say  that  you  killed  Socratc&,  a  wise  man  ;  for 
they  will  call  me  wise,  even  although  I  am  not  wise,  when  they 
want  to  reproach  you.  If  jyou  had  waited  a  little  while,  your 
desire  would  have  been  fulfilled  in  the  course  of  nature.  For  I 
am  far  advanced  in  years,  as  you  may  perceive,  and  not  far 
from  death.  I  am  speaking  now  only  to  those  of  you  who 
have  condemned  me  to  death.  And  I  have  another  thing  to 
say  to  them  :  You  think  that  I  was  convicted  because  I  had  no 
words  of  the  sort  which  would  have  procured  my  acquittal — I 
mean,  if  I  had  thought  fit  to  leave  nothing  undone  or  unsaid. 
Not  so  ;  the  deficiency  which  led  to  my  conviction  was  not  of 
words — certainly  not.  But  I  had  not  the  boldness  or  impudence 
or  inclination  to  address  you  as  you  would  have  liked  me  to 
address  you,  weeping  and  wailing  and  lamenting,  and  saying  and 
doing  many  things  which  you  have  been  accustomed  to  hear 
from  others,  and  which,  as  I  maintain,  are  unworthy  of  me.  I 
thought  at  the  time  that  I  ought  not  to  do  anything  common 

B  b  2 

372  APOLOGY. 

or  mean  when  in  danger  :  nor  do  I  now  repent  of  the  manner 
of  my  defence,  and  I  would  rather  die  having  spoken  after  my 
manner,  than  speak  in  your  manner  and  live.  For  neither  in 
war  nor  yet  a^law_ojLj^ht  I  or  any  man  to  use  every  way  of  39 
escaping  death.  (Often^jp[battle  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  if  a 
man  will  throw  away  his  arms,  and  fall  on  his  knees  before  his 
pursuers,  he  may  escape  death  ;  and  in  other  dangers  there  are 
\  other  ways  of  escaping  death,  if  a  man  is  willing  to  say  and  do 
\  anything.  Thp  Hifflmlty,  my  fnVnrk,  io  not-  in  p voiding  death, 
^but  in  avoidinp-  unrighteousness ;  for  that  runs  faster  than 
death.  I  am  old  and  move  slowly,  and  the  slower  runner  has 
overtaken  me,  and  my  accusers  are  keen  and  quick,  and  the 
faster  runner,  who  is  unrighteousness,  has  overtaken  them. 
And__now_^_derjart  hence  condemned  by  you  to  suffer  the 
penalty_jDf  death,  and  they  too  go  their  ways  condemned  by 
the  truth  to  suffer  the  penalty  of  villainy  and^  wrong ;  and  I 
must  abide  by  my  award— let  them  abide  by  theirs.  I  suppose 
that  these  things  may  be  regarded  as  fated, — and  I  think  that 
they  are  well. 

And  now,  O  men  who  have  condemned  me,  I  would  fain 
prophesy  to  you  ;  for  I  am  about  to  die,  and  that  is  the  hour 
in  which  men  are  dfted  with  prophetic  power.  And  I  prophesy 
to  you  who  are  ^^  murderers,  that  immediately  after  my 
death  punishment  far^heavier  than  you  have  inflicted  on  me 
will  surely  await  you.  Me  you  have  killed  because  you  wanted 
to  escape  the  accuser,  and  not  to  give  an  account  of  your  lives. 
But  that  will  not  be  as  you  suppose  :  far  otherwise.  For  I  say 
that  there  will  be  more  accusers  of  you  than  there  are  now ; 
accusers  whom  hitherto  I  have  restrained :  and  as  they  are 
younger  they  will  be  more  inconsiderate  with  you,  and  you  will 
be  more  offended  at  them.  If  j^ou^jthjnk  that  by  killing  men 
you  can  prevent  some  one  from  censuring  your  evil  lives,  you_are 
mistaken  ;  that  is  not  a  way  of  escape  which  is  either  possible 
or  honourable  ;  the  easiest  and  the  noblest  way  is  not  to  be 
disabling  others,  but  to  be  improving  yourselves.  This  is  the 
prophecy  which  I  utter  before  my  departure  to  the  judges  who 
have  condemned  me. 

Friends,  who  would  have  acquitted  me,  I  would  like  also  to 
talk  with  you  about  this  thing  which  has  happened,  while  the 

APOLOGY.  373 

magistrates  are  busy,  and  before  I  go  to  the  place  at  which  I 
must  die.  Stay  then  awhile,  for  we  may  as  well  talk  with  one 
40  another  while  there  is  time.  You  are  my  friends,  and  I  should 
like  to  show  you  the  meaning  of  this  event  which  has  happened 
to  me.  O  my  judges — for  you  I  may  truly  call  judges — I 
should  like  to  tell  you  of  a  wonderful  circumstance.  Hitherto 
the  familiar  oracle  within  me  has  constantly  been  in  the  habit 
of  opposing  me  even  about  trifles,  if  I  was  going  to  make  a  slip 
or  error  in  any  matter ;  and  now  as  you  see  there  has  come 
upon  me  that  which  may  be  thought,  and  is  generally  believed 
to  be,  the  last  and  worst  evil.  But  the  oracle  made  no  sign  of 
opposition,  either  as  I  was  leaving  my  house  and  going  out  in 
the  morning,  or  when  I  was  going  up  into  this  court,  or  while  I 
was  speaking,  at  anything  which  I  was  going  to  say  ;  and  yet  I 
have  often  been  stopped  in  the  middle  of  a  speech,  but  now  in 
nothing  I  either  said  or  did  touching  this  matter  has  the  oracle 
opposed  me.  What  do  I  take  to  be  the  explanation  of  this  ? 
I  will  tell  you.  I  regard  this  as  a  great  proof  that  what  has 
happened  to  me  is  a  good,  and  that  those  of  us  who  think  that 
death  is  an  evil  are  in  error.  For  the  customary  sign  would 
surely  have  opposed  me  had  I  been  going  to  evil  and  not  to 

J  Let  us  reflect  in  another  way,  and  we  shall  see  that  there  is 
great  reason  to  hope  that  death  is  a  good  ;  for  one  of  two  things 
— either  death  is  a  state  of  nothingness  and  utter  unconscious 
ness,  or,  as  men  say,  there  is  a  change  and  migration  of  the 
soul  from  this  world  to  another.  Now  if  you  suppose  that 
there  is  no  consciousness,  but  a  sleep  like  the  sleep  of  him  who 
is  undisturbed  even  by  the  sight  of  dreams,  death  will  be  an 
unspeakable  gain.  For  if  a  person  were  to  select  the  night  in 
which  his  sleep  was  undisturbed  even  by  dreams,  and  were  to 
compare  with  this  the  other  days  and  nights  of  his  life,  and  then 
were  to  tell  us  how  many  days  and  nights  he  had  passed  in  the 
course  of  his  life  better  and  more  pleasantly  than  this  one,  I 
think  that  any  man,  I  will  not  say  a  private  man,  but  even  the 
great  king  will  not  find  many  such  days  or  nights,  when  com 
pared  with  the  others.  Now  if  death  is  like  this,  I  say  that  to 
die  is  gain  ;  for  eternity  is  then  only  a  single  night.  But  if  death 
is  the  journey  to  another  place,  and  there,  as  men  say,  all  the 

374  APOLOGY. 

dead  are,  what  good,  O  my  friends  and  judges,  can  be  greater 
than  this  ?  If  indeed  when  the  pilgrim  arrives  in  the  world 
below,  he  is  delivered  from  the  professors  of  justice  in  this  41 
world,  and  finds  the  true  judges  who  are  said  to  give  judgment 
there,  Minos  and  Rhadamanthus  and  Aeacus  and  Triptolemus, 
and  other  sons  of  God  who  were  righteous  in  their  own  life,  that 
pilgrimage  will  be  worth  making.  What  would  not  a  man  give 
if  he  might  converse  with  Orpheus  and  Musaeus  and  Hesiod 
and  Homer  ?  Nay,  if  this  be  true,  let  me  die  again  and  again. 
I  myself,  too,  shall  have  a  wonderful  interest  in  there  meeting 
and  conversing  with  Palamedes,  and  Ajax  the  son  of  Telamon, 
and  other  heroes  of  old,  who  have  suffered  death  through  an 
unjust  judgment  ;  and  there  will  be  no  small  pleasure,  as  I 
think,  in  comparing  my  own  sufferings  with  theirs.  Above  all, 
I  shall  then  be  able  to  continue  my  search  into  true  and  false 
knowledge  ;  as  in  this  world,  so  also  in  that ;  and  I  shall  find  out 
who  is  wise,  and  who  pretends  to  be  wise,  and  is  not.  What 
would  not  a  man  give,  O  judges,  to  be  able  to  examine  the 
leader  of  the  great  Trojan  expedition  ;  or  Odysseus  or  Sisyphus, 
or  numberless  others,  men  and  women  too!  What  infinite 
delight  would  there  be  in  conversing  with  them  and  asking 
them  questions !  In  another  world  they  do  not  put  a  man 
to  death  for  asking  questions  ;  assuredly  not.  For  besides  being 
happier  in  that  world  than  in  this,  they  will  be  immortal,  if  what 
is  said  is  true. 

Wherefore,  O  judges,  be  of  good  cheer  about  death,  and  know 
of  a  certainty,  that  no  evjLcanJiappen  to^a_good  man,  either  in 
life  or  after  death^  He  and  his  are  not  neglected  by  the  gods;  nor 
has  my  own  approaching  end  happened  by  mere  chance.  But 
I  see  clearly  that  to  die  and  be  released  was  better  for  me  ;  and 
therefore  the  oracle  gave  no  sign.  For  which  reason,  also,  I  am 
not  angry  with  my  condemners,  or  with  my  accusers  ;  they  have 
done  me  no  harm,  although  they  did  not  mean  to  do  me  any 
good  ;  and  for  this  I  may  gently  blame  them. 

Still  I  have  a  favour  to  ask  of  them.  When  my  sons  are 
grown  up,  I  would  ask  you,  O  my  friends,  to  £unish__th£jn ; 
and  I  would  have  you  trouble  them,  as  I  have  troubled  you,Jf 
they  seem  to  care  about  riches,  or  anything^onore,  than  about 
virtue ;  or  if  they  pretend  to  be  something  when  they  are  really 

APOLOGY.  375 

nothing, — then  reprove  them,  as  I  have  reproved  you,  for  not 
caring  about  that  for  which  they  ought  to  care,  and  thinking 
that  they  are  something  when  they  are  really  nothing.  And  if 
42  you  do  this,  I  and  my  sons  will  have  received  justice  at  your 

The  hour  of  departure  has  arrived,  and  we  go  our  ways — I  to 
die,  and  you  to  live.     Which  is  better  God  only  knows. 



THE  Crito  seems  intended  to  exhibit  the  character  of  Socrates  in 
one  light  only,  not  as  the  philosopher,  fulfilling  a  divine  mission  and 
trusting  in  the  will  of  heaven,  'but  simply  as  the  good  citizen,  who 
having  been  unjustly  condemned  is  willing  to  give  up  his  life  in 
obedience  to  the  laws  of  the  state. 

The  days  of  Socrates  are  drawing  to  a  close ;  the  fatal  ship  has  been 
seen  off  Sunium,  as  he  is  informed  by  his  aged  friend  and  contemporary 
Crito,  who  visits  him  before  the  dawn  has  broken ;  he  himself  has  been 
warned  in  a  dream  that  on  the  third  day  he  must  depart.  Time  is 
precious,  and  Crito  has  come  early  in  order  to  gain  his  consent  to 
a  plan  of  escape.  This  can  be  easily  accomplished  by  his  friends,  who 
will  incur  no  danger  in  making  the  attempt  to  save  him,  but  will  be 
disgraced  for  ever  if  they  allow  him  to  perish.  He  should  think  of  his 
duty  to  his  children,  and  not  play  into  the  hands  of  his  enemies.  Money 
is  already  provided  by  Crito  as  well  as  by  Simmias  and  others,  and 
he  will  have  no  difficulty  in  finding  friends  in  Thessaly  and  other 

Socrates  is  afraid  that  Crito  is  but  pressing  upon  him  the  opinions 
of  the  many:  whereas,  all  his  life  long  he  has  followed  the  dictates 
of  reason  only  and  the  opinion  of  the  one  wise  or  skilled  man.  There 
was  a  time  when  Crito  himself  had  allowed  the  propriety  of  this. 
And  although  some  one  will  say  '  the  many  can  kill  us,'  that  makes 
no  difference ;  but  a  good  life,  in  other  words,  a  just  and  honourable 
life,  is  alone  to  be  valued.  All  considerations  of  loss  of  reputation  or 
injury  to  his  children  should  be  dismissed :  the  only  'question  is  whether 
he  would  be  right  in  attempting  to  escape.  Crito,  who  is  a  disinterested 
person  not  having  the  fear  of  death  before  his  eyes,  shall  answer  this 
for  him.  Before  he  was  condemned  they  had  often  held  discussions, 

380  CRITO. 

in  which  they  agreed  that  no  man  should  either  do  evil,  or  return  evil 
for  evil,  or  betray  the  right.  Are  these  principles  to  be  altered  because 
the  circumstances  of  Socrates  are  altered?  Crito  admits  thai  they 
remain  the  same.  Then  is  his  escape  consistent  with  the  maintenance 
of  them  ?  To  this  Crito  is  unable  or  unwilling  to  reply. 

Socrates  proceeds :  —  Suppose  the  Laws  of  Athens  to  come  and 
remonstrate  with  him:  they  will  ask  'Why  does  he  seek  to  overturn 
them?'  and  if  he  replies,  'they  have  injured  him,'  will  not  the  laws 
answer,  '  Yes,  but  was  that  the  agreement  ?  Has  he  any  objection 
to  make  to  them  which  would  justify  him  in  overturning  them?  Was 
he  not  brought  into  the  world  and  educated  by  their  help,  and  are  they 
not  his  parents?  He  might  have  left  Athens  and  gone  where  he 
pleased,  but  he  has  lived  there  for  seventy  years  more  constantly 
than  any  other  citizen.'  Thus  he  has  clearly  shown  that  he  acknow 
ledged  the  agreement,  which  he  cannot  now  break  without  dishonour 
to  himself  and  danger  to  his  friends.  Even  in  the  course  of  the  trial 
he  might  have  proposed  exile  as  the  penalty,  but  then  he  declared  that 
he  preferred  death  to  exile.  And  whither  will  he  direct  his  footsteps  ? 
In  any  well-ordered  state  the  laws  will  consider  him  as  an  enemy. 
Possibly  in  a  land  of  misrule  like  Thessaly  he  may  be  welcomed  at 
first,  and  the  unseemly  narrative  of  his  escape  regarded  by  the  inha 
bitants  as  an  amusing  tale.  But  if  he  offends  them  he  will  have  to 
learn  another  sort  of  lesson.  Will  he  continue  to  give  lectures  in 
virtue?  That  would  hardly  be  decent.  And  how  will  his  children 
be  the  gainers  if  he  takes  them  into  Thessaly,  and  deprives  them  of 
Athenian  citizenship?  Or  if  he  leaves  them  behind,  does  he  expect 
that  they  will  be  better  taken  care  of  by  his  friends  because  he  is  in 
Thessaly  ?  Will  not  true  friends  care  for  them  equally  whether  he 
is  alive  or  dead  ? 

Finally,  they  exhort  him  to  think  of  justice  first,  and  of  life  and 
children  afterwards.  He  may  now  depart  in  peace  and  innocence, 
a  sufferer  and  not  a  doer  of  evil.  But  if  he  breaks  agreements,  and 
returns  evil  for  evil,  they  will  be  angry  with  him  while  he  lives;  and 
their  brethren  the  Laws  of  the  world  below  will  receive  him  as  an 
enemy.  Such  is  the  mystic  voice  which  is  always  murmuring  in 
his  ears. 

That  Socrates  was  not  a  good  citizen  was  a  charge  made   against 


him  during  his  lifetime,  which  has  been  often  repeated  in  later  ages. 
The  crimes  of  Alcibiades,  Critias,  and  Charmides,  who  had  been  his 
pupils,  were  still  recent  in  the  memory  of  the  now  restored  democracy. 
The  fact  that  he  had  been  neutral  in  the  death-struggle  of  Athens  was 
not  likely  to  conciliate  popular  good-will.  Plato,  writing  probably  in 
the  next  generation,  undertakes  the  defence  of  his  friend  and  master 
in  this  particular,  not  to  the  Athenians  of  his  day,  but  to  posterity  and 
the  world  at  large. 

Whether  such  an  incident  ever  really  occurred  as  the  visit  of  Crito 
and  the  proposal  of  escape  is  uncertain :  Plato  could  easily  have  invented 
far  more  than  that  (Phaedr.  2756);  and  in  the  selection  of  Crito,  the  aged 
friend,  as  the  fittest  person  to  make  the  proposal  to  Socrates,  wre  seem 
to  recognize  the  hand  of  the  artist.  Whether  any  one  who  has  been  '! 
subjected  by  the  laws  of  his  country  to  an  unjust  judgment  is  right  in  ( 
attempting  to  escape,  is  a  thesis  about  which  casuists  might  disagree.  \ 
Shelley  (Prose  Works,  p.  78)  is  of  opinion  that  Socrates  '  did  well  to 
die,'  but  not  for  the  '  sophistical'  reasons  which  Plato  has  put  into 
his  mouth.  And  there  would  be  no  difficulty  in  arguing  that  Socrates 
should  have  lived  and  preferred  to  a  glorious  death  the  good  which 
he  might  still  be  able  to  perform.  '  A  rhetorician  would  have  had  much 
to  say  about  that'  (50  C).  It  may  be  observed  however  that  Plato 
never  intended  to  answer  the  question  of  casuistry,  but  only  to  exhibit 
the  ideal  of  patient  virtue  which  refuses  to  do  the  least  evil  in  order  to  \ 
avoid  the  greatest,  and  to  show  his  master  maintaining  in  death  the 
opinions  which  he  had  professed  in  his  life.  Not  '  the  world/  but  the 
'  one  wise  man,'  is  still  the  paradox  of  Socrates  in  his  last  hours.  He 
must  be  guided  by  reason,  although  her  conclusions  may  be  fatal  to  him. 
The  remarkable  sentiment  that  the  wicked  can  do  neither  good  nor  evil 
is  true,  if  taken  in  the  sense,  which  he  means,  of  moral  evil ;  in  his  own 
words,  '  they  cannot  make  a  man  wise  or  foolish.' 

This  little  dialogue  is  a  perfect  piece  of  dialectic,  in  which  granting 
the  'common  principle'  (49  D),  there  is  no  escaping  from  the  conclusion. 
The  personification  of  the  Laws,  and  of  their  brethren  the  Laws  in  the 
world  below,  is  one  of  the  noblest  and  boldest  figures  of  speech  which 
occur  in  Plato. 

C  R  I T  O. 


SCENE  : — The  Prison  of  Socrates. 

Steph.     Socrates.  WHY  have  you  come  at  this  hour,  Crito  ?   it  must 
43   be  quite  early? 

Crito.  Yes,  certainly. 

Soc.  What  is  the  exact  time  ? 

Cr.  The  dawn  is  breaking. 

Soc.  I  wonder  that  the  keeper  of  the  prison  would  let  you  in. 

Cr.  He  knows  me,  because  I  often  come,  Socrates  ;  moreover, 
I  have  done  him  a  kindness. 

Soc.  And  are  you  only  just  arrived? 

Cr.  No,  I  came  some  time  ago. 

Soc.  Then  why  did  you  sit  and  say  nothing,  instead  of  at  once 
awakening  me? 

Cr.  By  the  Gods,  Socrates,  I  would  rather  not  myself  have  all 
this  sleeplessness  and  sorrow.  And  I  have  been  wondering  at 
your  peaceful  slumbers,  which  was  the  reason  why  I  did  not 
awaken  you,  because  I  wanted  you  to  be  out  of  pain.  I  have 
always  thought  you  of  a  happy  disposition  ;  but  never  did  I  see 
anything  like  the  easy,  jtra^quiljnaniier  in  which  you  bear  this 

Soc.  Why,  Crito,  when  a  man  has  reached  my  age  he  ought | 
not  to  be  repining  at  the  prospect  of  death. 

Cr.  And  yet  other  old  men  find  themselves  in  similar  mis 
fortunes,  and  age  does  not  prevent  them  from  repining. 

384  CRITO. 

Soc.  That  may  be.  But  you  have  not  told  me  why  you  come 
at  this  early  hour. 

Cr.  I  come  to  bring  you  a  message  which  is  sad  and  painful ; 
not,  as  I  believe,  to  yourself,  but  to  all  of  us  who  are  your 
friends,  and  saddest  of  all  to  me. 

Soc.  What  ?  Has  the  ship  come  from  Delos,  on  the  arrival  of 
which  I  am  to  die? 

Cr.  No,  the  ship  has  not  actually  arrived,  but  she  will  prob 
ably  be  here  to-day,  as  persons  who  have  come  from  Sunium 
tell  me  that  they  left  her  there  ;  and  therefore  to-morrow,  So- 
crates,  wilTbethe  last  day  of  yourjife. 

Soc.  Very  well,  Crito  ;  if  such  is  the  will  of  God,  I  am  willing  ; 
but  my  belief  is  that  there  will  be  a  delay  of  a  day. 

Cr.  Why  do  you  think  so  ?  44 

'Soc.  I  will  tell  you.     I  am  to  die  on  the  day  after  the  arrival 
of  the  ship. 

Cr.  Yes  ;  that  is  what  the  authorities  say. 
Soc.  But  I  do  not  think  that  the  ship  will  be  here  until  to 
morrow  ;    this  I  infer  from  a  vision  which  I  had  last  night,  or 
rather  only  just  now,  when  you  fortunately  allowed  me  to  sleep. 
Cr.  And  what  was  the  nature  of  the  vision  ? 
Soc.   There  came  to   me  the  likeness   of  a  woman,  fair  and 
comely,  clothed  in  white  raiment,  who  called  to  me  and  said : 
O  Socrates, 

'  The  third  day  hence  to  Phthia  shalt  thqujjo.' l 
Cr.  What  a  singular  dream,  Socrates ! 

Soc.  There  can  be  no  doubt  about  the  meaning,  Crito,  I  think. 
Cr.  Yes  ;  the  meaning  is  only  too  clear.  But,  Oh !  my  be 
loved  Socrates,  let  me  entreat  you  once  more  to  take  my  advice 
and^escape.  For  if  you  die  I  shall  not  only  lose  a  friend  who 
can  never  be  replaced,  but  there  is  another  evil :  people  who  do 
not  know  you  and  me  will  believe  that  I  might  have  saved  you 
if  I  had  been  willing  to  give  money,  but  that  I  did  not  care. 
Now,  can  there  be  a  worse  disgrace  than  this — that  I  should  be 
thought  to  value  money  more  than  the  life  of  a  friend?  For 
the  many  will  not  be  persuaded  that  I  wanted  you  to  escape, 
and  that  you  refused. 

Soc.  But  why,  my  dear  Crito^should  we  care  about_the  opinion 
1  Homer,  II.  ix.  363. 


ofthe^jnany :?  Good  men,  and  they  are  the  only  persons  who 
are  worth  considering,  will  think  of  these  things  truly  as  they 

Cr.  But  you  see,  Socrates,  that  the  opinion  of  the  many  must 
be  regarded,  for  what  is  now  happening  shows  that  they  can  dp 
the  greatest  evil  to  any  one  who  has  lost  their  good  opinion. 

Soc.  I  only  wish,  Crito,  that  they  could  ;  for  then  they  coujd 
also  do  the  greatest  good,  and  that  would  be  well.  But  in  reality 
the3^_caiL_dQ^aeither  ;  for  they  cannot  either  make  a  man  wise 
or  make  him  foolish  ;  and  whatever  they  do  is  the  result  of 

Cr.  Well,  I  will  not  dispute  with  you  ;  but  please  to  tell  me, 
Socrates,  whether  you  are  not  acting  out  of  regard  to  me  and 
your  other  friends :  are  you  not  afraid  that  if  you  escape  from 
prison  we  may  get  into  trouble  with  the  informers  for  having 
stolen  you  away,  and  lose  either  the  whole  or  a  great  part  of 
45  our  property ;  or  that  even  a  worse  evil  may  happen  to  us  ? 
Now,  if  this  is  your  fear,  be  at  ease ;  for  in  order  to  save  you, 
we  ought  surely  to  run  this,  or  even  a  greater  risk  ;  be  persuaded, 
then,  and  do  as  I  say. 

Soc.  Yes,  Crito,  that  is  one  fear  which  you  mention,  but  by  no 
means  the  only  one. 

Cr.  Fear  not.  There  are  persons  who  at  no  great  cost  are 
willing  to  save  you  and  bring  you  out  of  prison  ;  and  as  for  the 
informers,  they  are  far  from  being  exorbitant  in  their  demands  ; 
you  may  observe  that  a  little  money  will  satisfy  them.  My 
means,  which  are  certainly  ample,  are  at  your  service,  and  if 
you  have  a  scruple  about  spending  all  mine,  here  are  strangers 
who  will  give  you  the  use  of  theirs  ;  and  one  of  them,  Simmias 
the  Theban,  has  brought  a  sum  of  money  for  this  very  purpose  ; 
and  Cebes  and  many  others  are  willing  to  spend  their  money 
too.  I  say  therefore,  do  not  on  that  account  hesitate  about 
making  your  escape,  and  do  not  say,  as  you  did  in  the  court, 
that  you  will  have  a  difficulty  in  knowing  what  to  do  with  your 
self  if  you  escape.  For  men  will  love  you  in  other  places  to  j 
which  you  may  go,  and  not  in  Athens  only  ;  there  are  friends  of  I 
mine  in  Thessaly,  if  you  like  to  go  to  them,  who  will  value  and 
protect  you,  and  no  Thessalian  will  give  you  any  trouble.  Nor 
can  I  think  that  you  are  justified,  Socrates,  in  betraying  your 

VOL.  i.  c  c 

386  CRITO. 

own  life  when  you  might  be  saved  ;  this  is  playing  into  the 
hands  of  your  enemies  and  destroyers  ;  and  further  I  should  say 
that  you  were  deserting  your  own  children  ;  for  you  might  bring 
them  up  and  educate  them  ;  instead  of  which  you  go  away  and 
leave  them,  and  they  will  have  to  take  their  chance  ;  and  if  they 
do  not  meet  with  the  usual  fate  of  orphans,  there  will  be  small 
thanks  to  you.  No  man  should  bring  children  into  the  world 
who  is  unwilling  to  persevere  to  the  end  in  their  nurture  and 
education.  But  you  appear  to  be  choosing  the  easier  part,  not 
the  better  and  manlier,  which  would  rather  have  become  one 
who  professes  to  care  for  virtue  in  all  his  actions,  like  yourself. 
And  indeed,  I  am  ashamed  not  only  of  you,  but  of  us  who  are 
your  friends,  when  I  reflect  that  this  aftair  of  yours  will  be  attri 
buted  entirely  to  our  want  of  courage.  The  trial  need  never  have 
come  on,  or  might  have  been  managed  differently ;  and  this  last 
act,  or  crowning  folly,  will  seem  to  have  occurred  through  our 
negligence  and  cowardice,  who  might  have  saved  you,  if  we  had  46 
been  good  for  anything,  as  you  might  have  saved  yourself,  for 
there  was  no  difficulty  at  all.  See  now,  Socrates,  how  sad  and 
dishonourable  are  the  consequences,  both  to  us  and  you.  Make  up 
your  mind  then,  or  rather  have  your  mind  already  made  up,  for 
the  time  of  deliberation  is  over,  and  there  is  only  one  thing  to  be 
done,  which  must  be  done  this  very  night,  and  if  we  delay  at 
all  will  be  no  longer  practicable  or  possible;  I  beseech  you  there 
fore,  Socrates,  be  persuaded  by  me,  and  do  as  I  say. 

Soc.  Dear  Crito,  your  zeal  is  invaluable,  if  a  right  one  ;  but  if 
wrong,  the  greater  the  zeal  the  greater  the  danger ;  and  therefore 
we  ought  to  consider  whether  I  shall  or  shall  not  do  as  you  say. 
For  I  am  and  always  have  been  one  of  those  natures  who  must 
be  guided  by  reason,  whatever  the  reason  may  be  which  upon 
reflection  appears  to  me  to  be  the  best ;  and  now  that  this  for 
tune  has  come  upon  me,  I  cannot  put  away  the  conclusion  at 
which  I  had  arrived :  the  principles  which  I  have  hitherto 
honoured  and  revered  I  still  honour,  and  unless  we  can  at  once 
find  other  and  better  principles,  I  am  certain  not  to  agree  with 
you  ;  no,  not  even  if  the  power  of  the  multitude  could  inflict 
many  more  imprisonments,  confiscations,  deaths,  frightening  us 
like  children  with  hobgoblin  terrors.  But  what  will  be  the 
fairest  way  of  considering  the  question  ?  Shall  I  return  to  your 

CRITO.  387 

old  argument  about  the  opinions  of  men  ?  some  of  which  are  to 
be  regarded,  and  others,  as  we  were  saying,  are  not  to  be  re 
garded.  Now  were  we  right  in  maintaining  this  before  I  was 
condemned  ?  And  has  the  argument  which  was  once  good  now 
proved  to  be  talk  for  the  sake  of  talking ;— in  fact  an  amusement 
only,  and  altogether  vanity  ?  That  is  what  I  want  to  consider 
with  your  help,  Crito  :— whether,  under  my  present  circum 
stances,  the  argument  appears  to  be  in  any  way  different  or 
not ;  and  is  to  be  allowed  by  me  or  disallowed.  That  argument, 
which,  as  I  believe,  is  maintained  by  many  who  assume  to  be 
authorities,  was  to  the  effect,  as  I  was  saying,  that  the  opinions 
of  some  men  are  to  be  regarded,  and.  of  other  men  not  to  be  re 
garded.  Now  you,  Crito,  are  a  disinterested  person  who  are  not 
47  going  to  die  to-morrow— at  least,  there  is  no  human  probability 
of  this,  and  you  are  therefore  not  liable  to  be  deceived  by  the 
circumstances  in  which  you  are  placed.  Tell  me  then,  whether 
I  am  right  in  saying  that  some  opinions,  and  the  opinions  of 
some  men  only,  are  to  be  valued,  and  that  other  opinions,  and 
the  opinions  of  other  men,  are  not  to  be  valued.  I  ask  you 
whether  I  was  right  in  maintaining  this  ? 
Cr.  Certainly. 

Soc.  The  good  are  to  be  regarded,  and  not  the  bad  ? 
Cr.  Yes. 

Soc.  And  the  opinions  of  the  wise  are  good,  and  the  opinions 
of  the  unwise  are  evil  ? 

Cr.  Certainly. 

Soc.  And  what  was  said  about  another  matter  ?  Was  the  dis 
ciple  in  gymnastics  supposed  to  attend  to  the  praise  and  blame 
and  opinion  of  every  man,  or  of  one  man  only— his  physician  or 
trainer,  whoever  that  was  ? 

Cr.  Of  one  man  only. 

Soc.  And  he  ought  to  fear  the  censure  and  welcome  the  praise 

that  one  only,  and  not  of  the  many  ? 

Cr.  That  is  clear. 

Soc.  And  he  ought  to  act  and  train,  and  eat  and  drink  in  the 
'ay  which  seems  good  to  his  single  master  who  has  understand 
ing,  rather  than  according  to  the  opinion  of  all  other  men  put 

Cr.  True. 

C  C  2 


388  CRITO. 

Soc.  And  if  he  disobeys  and  disregards  the  opinion  and 
approval  of  the  one,  and  regards  the  opinion  of  the  many  who 
have  no  understanding,  will  he  not  suffer  evil  ? 

Cr.  Certainly  he  will. 

Soc.  And  what  will  the  evil  be,  whither  tending  and  what 
affecting,  in  the  disobedient  person? 

Cr.  Clearly,  affecting  the  body ;  that  is  what  is  destroyed  by 
the  evil. 

•Soc.  Very  good  ;  and  is  not  this  true,  Crito,  of  other  things 
which  we  need  not  separately  enumerate?  In  questions  of 
just  and  unjust,  fair  and  foul,  good  and  evil,  which  are  the  sub 
jects  of  our  present  consultation,  ought  we  to  follow  the  opinion 
of  the  many  and  to  fear  them  ;  or  the  opinion  of  the  one  man 
who  has  understanding  ?  ought  we  not  to  fear  and  reverence  him 
more  than  all  the  rest  of  the  world  :  and  if  we  desert  him  shall 

Ce  not  destroy  and  injure  that  principle  in  us  which   may  be 
5sumed   to    be    improved   by  justice   and  deteriorated   by  in- 
Ijustice  ; — there  is  such  a  principle? 
Cr.  Certainly  there  is,  Socrates. 

Soc.  Take  a  parallel  instance  : — if,  acting  under  the  advice 
of  men  who  have  no  understanding,  we  destroy  that  which  is 
improved  by  health  and  is  deteriorated  by  disease,  would  life 
be  worth  having?  And  that  which  has  been  destroyed  is— the 
Cr.  Yes. 

Soc.  Could  we  live,  having  an  evil  and  corrupted  body? 
Cr.  Certainly  not. 

/Soc.  And  will  life  be  worth  having,  if  that  higher  part  of  man 
be  destroyed,  which  is  improved  by  justice  and  deteriorated  by 
injustice?    Do  we  suppose  that  principle,  whatever  it  may  be  in 
man,  which  has  to  do  with  justice  and  injustice,  to  be  inferior  48 
to  the  body? 

Cr.  Certainly  not. 

Soc., More  honoured,  then? 

Cr.  Far  more  honoured. 

Soc.  Then,  my  friend,  we  must  not  regard  what  the  many  say 
of  us :  but  what  he,  the  one  man  who  has  understanding  of  just 
and  unjust,  will  say,  and  what  the  truth  will  say.  And  there 
fore  you  begin  in  error  when  you  advise  that  we  should  regard 

CRITO.  389 

the  opinion  of  the  many  about  just  and  unjust,  good  and  evil, 
honourable  and  dishonourable. — 'Well,'  some  one  will  say,  'but 
the  many  can  kill  us.' 

Cr.  Yes,  Socrates  ;  that  will  clearly  be  the  answer. 

Soc.  That  is  true  :  but  still  I  find  with  surprise  that  the  old 
argument  is,  as  I  conceive,  unshaken  as  ever.  And  I  should 
like  to  know  whether  I  may  say  the  same  of  another  propo 
sition — that  not  life,  but  a  good  life,  is  to  be  chiefly  valued  ? 

Cr.  Yes,  that  also  remains. 

Soc.  And  a  good  life  is  equivalent  to  a  just  and  honourable 
one — that  holds  also? 

Cr.  Yes,  that  holds. 

Soc.  From  these  premisses  I  proceed  to  argue  the  question 
whether  I  ought  or  ought  not  to  try  and  escape  without  the 
consent  of  the  Athenians  :  and  if  I  am  clearly  right  in  escaping, 
then  I  will  make  the  attempt;  but  if  not,  I  will  abstain.  'The 
other  considerations  which  you  mention,  of  money  and  loss  of 
character  and  the  duty  of  educating  one's  children,  are,  I  fear,  only 
the  doctrines  of  the  multitude,  who  would  be  as  ready  to  call 
people  to  life,  if  they  were  able,  as  they  are  to  put  them  to  death 
— and  with  as  little  reason.  But  now,  since  the  argument  has* 
thus  far  prevailed,  the  only  question  which  remains  to  be  con- 1 
sidered  is^whether  we  shall  do  rightly  either  in  escaping  or  ini 
suffering  others  to  aid  in  our  escape  and  paying  them  inj 
money  and  thanks,  or  whether  we  shall  not  do  rightly  ^and  iff 
the  latter,  then  death  or  any  other  calamity  which  may  ensue' 
on  my  remaining  here  must  not  be  allowed  to  enter  into  the 

Cr.  I  think  that  you  are  right,  Socrates  ;  how  then  shall  we 
proceed  ? 

Soc.  Let  us  consider  the  matter  together,  and  do  you  either 
refute  me  if  you  can,  and  I  will  be  convinced  ;  or  else  cease,  my 
dear  friend,  from  repeating  to  me  that  I  ought  to  escape  against 
the  wishes  of  the  Athenians  :    for  I  am  extremely  desirous  to!  ' 
be  persuaded  by  you,  but  not  against  my  own  better  judgment.* 
49  And  now  please  to  consider  my  first  position,  and  try  how  you 
can  best  answer  me. 

Cr.  I  will. 

Soc.   Are   we   to   say  that   we   arc   never  intentionally  to  do 


390  CRITO. 

wrong,  or  that  in  one  way  we  ought  and  in  another  way  wej 
ought  not  to  do  wrong,  or  is  doing  wrong  always  evil  and  dis-J 
honourable,  as  I  was  just  now  saying,  and  as  has  been  already) 
acknowledged  by  us ?  Are  all  our  former  admissions  .which 
were  made  within  a  few  days  to  be  thrown  away?  And  have 
we,  at  our  age,  been  earnestly  discoursing  with  one  another  all 
our  life  long  only  to  discover  that  we  are  no  better  than  chil 
dren  ?  Or,  in  spite  of  the  opinion  of  the  many,  and  in  spite  of 
consequences  whether  better  or  worse,  shall  we  insist  on  the  truth 
of  what  was  then  said,  that  injustice  is  always  an  evil  and  dis-j 
honour  to  him  who  acts  unjustly?  Shall  we  say  so  or  not  ? 

Cr.  Yes. 

Soc.  Then  we  must  do  no  wrong  ? 

Cr.  Certainly  not. 

Soc.  Nor  when  injured  injure  in  return,  as  the  many  imagine  ; 
for  we  must  injure  no  one  at  all? 

Cr.  Clearly  not. 

Soc.  Again,  Crito,  may  we  do  evil  ? 

Cr.  Surely  not,  Socrates. 

Soc.  And  what  of  doing  evil  in  return  for  evil,  which  is  the 
morality  of  the  many — is  that  just  or  not? 

Cr.  Not  just.  • 

Soc.  For  doing  evil  to  another  is  the  same  as  injuring  him? 

Cr.  Very  true. 

Soc.  Then  we  ought  not  to  retaliate  or  render  evil  for  evil  to 
any  one,  whatever  evil  we  may  have  suffered  from  him.  But 
I  would  have  you  consider,  Crito,  whether  you  really  mean  what 
Vou  are  saying.  For  this  opinion  has  never  been  held,  and  never 
jlvill  be  held,  by  any  considerable  number  of  persons  ;  and  those 
fwho  are  agreed  and  those  who  are  not  agreed  upon  this  point 
|iave  no  common  ground,  and  can  only  despise  one  another 
when  they  see  how  widely  they  differ.  Tell  me, '  then,  whether 
you  agree  with  and  assent  to  my  first  principle;  that  neither 
injury  nor  retaliation  nor  warding  off  evil  by  evil  is  ever  right. 
And  shall  that  be  the  premiss  of  our  argument?  Or  do  you 
decline  and  dissent  from  this?  For  thus  I  have  ever  thought, 
and  still  think ;  but,  if  you  are  of  another  opinion,  let  me  hear 
what  you  have  to  say.  If,  however,  you  remain  of  the  same 
mind  as  formerly,  I  will  proceed  to  the  next  step. 

CRITO.  391 

Cr.  You  may  proceed,  for  I  have  not  changed  my  mind. 

Soc.  Then  I  will  proceed  to  the  next  step,  which  may  be  put 
in  the  form  of  a  question  : — Ought  a  man  to  do  what  he  admits! 
to  be  right,  or  ought  he  to  betray  the  right  ? 

Cr.  He  ought  to  do  what  he  thinks  right. 

Soc.  But  if  this  is  true,  what  is  the  application  ?     In  leaving 

50  the  prison  against  the  will  of  the  Athenians,  do  I  wrong  any  ? 

or  rather  do  I  not  wrong  those  whom  I  ought  least  to  wrong  ? 

Do  I  not  desert  the  principles  which  were  acknowledged  by  us 

to  be  just — what  do  you  say? 

Cr.  I  cannot  tell,  Socrates  ;  for  I  do  not  know. 

Soc.  Then  consider  the  matter  in  this  way  : — Imagine  that  I 
am  about  to  play  truant  (you  may  call  the  proceeding  by  any 
name  which  you  like),  and  the  laws  and  the  government  come 
and  interrogate  me :  '  Tell  us,  Socrates,'  they  say  ;  '  what  are 
you  about?  are  you  going  by  an  act  of  yours  to  overturn  us — 
the  laws,  and  the  whole  state,  as  far  as  in  you  lies?  Do  you 
imagine  that  a  state  can  subsist  and  not  be  overthrown,  in 
which  the  decisions  of  law  have  no  power,  but  are  set  aside  and 
overthrown  by  individuals?'  What  will  be  our  answer,  Crito, 
to  these  and  the  like  words?  Any  one,  and  especially  a  rheto 
rician,  will  have  a  good  deal  to  say  on  behalf  of  the  law  which 
requires  a  sentence  to  be  carried  out ; — he  will  argue  that  this 
law  "  should  not  be  set  aside  ;  and  we  might  reply,  '  Yes  ;  but 
the  state  has  injured  us  and  given  an  unjust  sentence.'  Suppose 
I  say  that  ? 

Cr.  Very  good,  Socrates. 

Soc.  'And  was  that  our  agreement  with  you?'  the  law  would 
reply ;  'or  were  you  to  abide  by  the  sentence  of  the  state?'  And 
if  I  were  to  express  my  astonishment  at  their  words,  the  law 
would  probably  add  :  '  Answer,  Socrates,  instead  of  opening 
your  eyes :  you  are  in  the  habit  of  asking  and  answering  ques 
tions.  Tell  us  what  complaint  you  have  to  make  against  us 
which  justifies  you  in  attempting  to  destroy  us  and  the  state? 
In  the  first  place  did  we  not  bring  you  into  existence?  Your 
father  married  your  mother  by  our  aid  and  begat  you.  Say 
whether  you  have  any  objection  to  urge  against  those  of  us  who 
regulate  marriage?'  None,  I  should  reply.  'Or  against  those  of 
us  who  afterbirth  regulate  the  nurture  and  education  of  children, 

392  CRITO. 

in  which  you  also  were  trained?  Were  not  the  laws,  which 
have  the  charge  of  education,  right  in  commanding  your  father 
to  train  you  in  music  and  gymnastic?'  Right,  I  should  reply. 
'  Well  then,  since  you  were  brought  into  the  world  and  nurtured 
and  educated  by  us,  can  you  deny  in  the  first  place  that  you 
are  our  child  and  slave,  as  your  fathers  were  before  you  ?  And 
if  this  is  true  you  are  not  on  equal  terms  with  us  ;  nor  can  you 
think  that  you  have  a  right  to  do  to  us  what  we  are  doing  to 
j  you.  Would  you  have  any  right  to  strike  or  revile  or  do  any 
other  evil  to  your  father  or  your  master,  if  you  had  one,  because 
you  have  been  struck  or  reviled  by  him,  or  received  some  other 
evil  at  his  hands? — you  would  not  say  this?  And  because  we  51 
think  right  to  destroy  you,  do  you  think  that  you  have  any 
right  to  destroy  us  in  return,  and  your  country  as  far  as  in  you 
lies  ?  Will  you,  O  professor  of  true  virtue,  pretend  that  you  are 
justified  in  this?  Has  a  philosopher  like  you  failed  to  discover 
that  our  country  is  more  to  be  valued  and  higher  and  holier  far 
than  mother  or  father  or  any  ancestor,  and  more  to  be  re